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Chairman's Report

Busy Summer for Blueberry Promotions

By Zach Krahmer

The 2013 Oregon blueberry harvest season was a variable roller coaster ride for growers. There were opportunities early and late in the season for strong sales, but the middle season was a rough go for a lot of us.

With more plantings coming into production in the next couple of years, it is apparent that we need to continue to increase domestic consumption of our berries.

Thankfully the USHBC’s assessment increase to $18 a ton was recently approved, giving us added ability to conduct marketing and research that will be needed to drive consumption of blueberries to yet another record high.

On the promotional front, it’s been a busy summer for commission activities. Ima Blueberry stayed very active by participating in farmers’ markets, community fairs and other events.

Also this summer, the Oregon Blueberry Commission had an opportunity to participate as a commodity sponsor at the Bite of Oregon in Portland. We had great signage at the event, which annually draws thousands to Portland’s Waterfront Park, and we gained a lot of good publicity. Also, I had an opportunity to represent the Oregon Blueberry Commission with the Pro Chef Society of Oregon in a special event. I served as a co-anchor during a segment on the chef’s stage that featured Oregon blueberries and other Oregon commodities. It was great exposure for us and a fun opportunity for me.

Looking ahead, we are excited about a new scholarship program that we are initiating this fall for college students looking to come into our industry. We set aside $10,000 a year for at least two scholarships. The number of scholarships awarded could be more, depending on the number of applications and the quality of applicants we receive. We currently are looking for applicants. Applications will be due early next spring.

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