Social media, other media and events are the primary venues some southeast states plan to use this season to promote their blueberries.
The Brooksville-based Florida Blueberry Growers Association plans to use television and internet to promote its fruit.
The organization plans to work with the Tallahassee-based Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which includes blueberries in a series of television commercials that promoted the state’s fruit and vegetables, airing throughout the state.
Last year, one ad which aired during the late March, April and May harvesting featured blueberry pancakes. Association president and crop consultant Dudley Calfee said the professionally produced spots should help promote the state’s berries.
The association plans an internet blitz to remind Florida and southeast consumers that Florida blueberries are available and ask them to look for Florida clamshells, he said.
Sponsorship of the April 16-17 Florida Blueberry Festival in Brooksville should also help promote their fruit, Calfee said.
Last year, more than 60,000 trekked to the event north of Tampa, Fla., and organizers eye larger attendance this year, he said.
“The event will promote the Florida blueberry crop, which is the first in the nation,” Calfee said. “We think it’s a good avenue to promote blueberries because it raises the public’s awareness.”
Highway billboards throughout the state showing photos of the berries should promote the festival and the fruit long before the festival begins and with assistance from festival organizers, the association next year plans to conduct blueberry-specific marketing, he said.
In Georgia, growers aren’t planning retail or consumer promotions.
Joe Cornelius, chairman of the Manor-based Georgia Blueberry Commission, and president of J&B Blueberry Farms Inc., in Manor, said the organization invests most of the $200,000 it raises a year into agronomic research, including fruit quality and pests and disease studies.
The organization attends trade shows including the Newark, Del.-based Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit.
The commission provides the Alma-based Georgia Blueberry Growers Association about $30,000 a year to fund various local promotions, including teacher material so schools can teach about the fruit and to fund other minor staffing issues including IT, Cornelius said.
The North Carolina Blueberry Council Inc., plans to work with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in statewide promotions to increase blueberry sales.
The Atkinson-based organization also plans to sponsor Web promotions and partnerships with various publications to influence the state’s shoppers and is also planning a print or online partnership.
The promotions remain in the planning stages and the group also plans to sponsor events including a blueberry day at the State Farmer’s Market in Raleigh, N.C., said Julie Woodcock, the council’s executive director.
The council also continues to use social media, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and work with consumers through the council’s consumer-oriented website, www.northcarolinablueberries.com, to increase consumer awareness of the fruit, she said.
The council also maintains grower and trade websites at www.ncblueberrycouncil.org and www.blueberrytradeshow.com.
“The North Carolina Blueberry Council is investing in research through North Carolina State University that will improve the quality of fruit as well as introduce new varieties,” Woodcock said. “Research grant awards increased by more than 60% for 2016. Priorities were given to food safety issues, commercial breeding of new cultivars, genetic mapping for quantitative traits for fruit firmness and characteristics, mechanical harvestability and horticultural studies.”