Blueberry Demand on the Rise in U.S.

New research from the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council (USHBC) shows Americans are nearly twice as likely as they were nine years ago to buy blueberries in the coming year, and the number of households saying they’ve purchased blueberries within the past month (69%)  has nearly doubled since 2008.

In alignment with the industry’s goals of continuing to grow consumption, today’s blueberry consumers are also trending younger and more diverse; they’re more likely to be 35- to 44-year-olds (often parents with kids at home) and minorities than they were in 2004.

“With the mom market representing $2.7 trillion in annual spending in the U.S. and the Hispanic market expected to hit $1.5 trillion in buying power by 2015, this shift represents a step in the right direction for the blueberry industry,” says Parm Bains, chairman of the USHBC. “Connecting with the next wave of blueberry purchasers will continue to be a key strategy in driving demand, and this research shows our promotion efforts to date have been on target and are paying off.”

Some key points are as follows.

Blueberries: ideal for modern lifestyles

The survey findings suggest that marketers should continue to position blueberries as an ideal fit for modern lifestyles.

  • When asked what they like best about blueberries, consumers cite a variety of attributes including health (84%), taste (81%), convenience (61%) and versatility (44 %) – evidence they see them as a simple yet beneficial addition to their diet.
  • The majority of consumers (84%) choose fresh blueberries over other forms, preferring to eat them “out of hand” as a snack (60%), over yogurt (54%), in smoothies (49%) or over cereal (48%) – all ideal options for busy families or individuals.
  • The favorite way to use frozen blueberries is in smoothies. Forty-nine percent of the general population and 54% of women 25-44 say they like to use frozen blueberries in smoothies, which have become a popular source of fuel for the health-conscious and time-pressed.

As the blueberry’s ‘Health Halo’ grows, so do purchases

Consumers associate blueberries with health, which is good news for marketers because awareness of the fruit’s nutritional benefits is closely tied to propensity to purchase.

  • 99% of consumers believe blueberries to be a healthy food.
  • 68% state awareness of specific health benefits, a 115 percent increase over 2004.

When consumers see blueberry items on menus:

  • 58% perceive the specific dish as being healthier.
  • 24% perceive the restaurant as offering healthy fare.
  • Nearly 20% say they order that specific dish.

The web holds ample opportunity for blueberry marketers

As they seek to convey the health and lifestyle benefits of blueberries to more consumers, marketers have much to gain from web-based communications.

  • 57% of consumers report having seen news stories about the healthiness of blueberries and more than 50 percent say they found the news online.
  • Nearly 60% say they are very likely to purchase blueberries based on information they’ve seen on their preferred social media channels.

To view an executive summary of the research and learn more about the USHBC’s strategies for reaching new customers, visit www.blueberrycouncil.org/blueberry-marketers.

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