IBO Summit: Making blueberries the world’s favorite superfruit
July 21, 2023

For the first time ever the International Blueberry Organization (IBO) Summit took place in Poland from July 3-6. 2023.  Lublin, the capital of Poland’s main blueberry production region, was a fitting host for the Summit, attended by over 350 delegates from 30 countries across six continents, all of whom have a common goal of ‘Making Blueberries the World’s Favorite Superfruit’.

“Holding the IBO Summit in Poland, and the fact it was the first time since COVID that the industry was able to meet in person as one, reflected the truly global nature of the blueberry industry and its focus on ensuring blueberries continue to maintain their position as the world’s favorite superfruit,” says IBO Chairman, Peter McPherson.

The first day of the Summit kicked off with the inauguration of the Polish blueberry season, including a tasting performed by 18-month-old Krzyś Sosnowski, son and grandson of blueberry growers from the Lubelskie region.

“I thought it was also a really innovative way to demonstrate the importance of blueberries to a child’s diet, and the undoubted role blueberries can play in juvenile health and nutritional development.  It was a real highlight of what was a fantastic event,” says McPherson.

There were many conference highlights, which included a presentation by Cort Brazelton, co-CEO of Fall Creek, and Colin Fain, CEO of Agronometrics, on trends and data to be included in the IBO Global State of the Blueberry Industry Report.  These included:

Predicted global blueberry production over the next year of 2,000,000 metric tons.

The trend from availability to quality, with year-round production and availability of blueberries now firmly established, the focus is shifting to the planting and development of premium quality blueberries to drive further blueberry category growth and returns.

Data on grower economics, supply chain disruptions, successful product promotions and consumption trends, with the U.S.  and Canada continuing to be the leaders in global consumption, but now accounting for less than 50% of global consumption, illustrating the growth in other parts of the world.

The IBO Global State of the Blueberry Industry Report will be released in August 2023.

Two of the blueberry industry’s global leaders, Soren Bjorn, president of Driscoll’s of the Americas, and Juan Ignacio Allende, CEO of Hortifrut, also shared their views on what the future holds for the blueberry industry.

David Hughes, Professor Emeritus of Food Marketing at Imperial College London, facilitated a fascinating discussion on the Chinese blueberry market and presentations were also delivered on the most innovative promotional activities undertaken in countries including Poland, Australia, Chile, and the U.S.

Summit participants unanimously agreed that the common goal of the global blueberry industry must be to continue ‘Making Blueberries the World’s Favorite Superfruit’.

The Summit concluded with attendees visiting local Polish blueberry farms, which are some of  Europe’s largest blueberry farms.  

“The IBO Blueberry Summit provides a great opportunity for industry participants from across the world to come together, to not only share our different and common experiences but also learn from each other.  The message I have for all blueberry consumers around the world is to continue enjoying the ‘delight’ factor that blueberries provide on a daily basis,” notes McPherson.

The next IBO Summit has been provisionally planned for South Africa in September 2025.  The IBO is also looking at holding an event at Fruit Attraction, which is scheduled in Madrid in October 2024.