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Promotions Looking to International Market Development

The Oregon Blueberry Commission is increasing its emphasis on the development of international markets.

In its recent promotions budget, the Commission’s Promotions Committee endorsed spending $15,000, or 15 percent of the budget, on international market development. The commitment represents a sizable increase over past commitments to international markets, said Eric Pond, a member of the committee.

Oregon Bluebery Commission Chairman Zach Krahmer participating in a cooking demonstration using Oregon blueberries at the 2013 Bite of Oregon.

“We see the need to expand outside of Oregon,” Pond said. “Our major focus is to work with the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council and the Oregon Department of Agriculture to expand and open the doors to overseas markets to Oregon products and Northwest products.”

Pond said the Commission is hoping to keep expenses down and gain more traction in the foreign markets by working with USHBC and ODA. The Commission has set aside some funding to participate in trade missions in the hopes of getting product in the hands of potential buyers in Pacific Rim countries, Pond said, and, potentially, to try and open new markets.

“There is a huge amount of behind the scenes work that has to be done with the U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and foreign governments before we can access some of those markets,” Pond said.

The Promotions Committee also endorsed participating in the Bite of Oregon and the Oregon Chefs Society.

 “The Bite of Oregon went extremely well last year,” Pond said, “and we see a huge opportunity to affect chefs. Chefs go from here all over the world. If they get a good sense of using blueberries here, they are going to take that with them, and they are going to be sourcing blueberries wherever they go.”

The committee also endorsed putting funds into a general category of media events, including Celebrating Oregon Ag and Edible Portland.

“We felt that we had a broad reach in the (Celebrating Oregon Ag promotion),” Pond said. “We want to make sure as many consumers as possible understand the blueberry industry, and have a positive response to us.”

Commission Chairman Zach Krahmer and Ima Blueberry take time out from a busy day at Ag Fest in Salem April 26 to pose for this picture. Krahmer was manning the blueberry booth, while Ima Blueberry was circulating among the crowd and passing out stickers proclaiming that "Blueberries make me happy."

The Promotions Committee also endorsed ramping up the Ima Blueberry campaign. The campaign added a second Ima Blueberry two years, and increased the number of events in which Ima participates.

The Commission also backed hosting a booth at Ag Fest, which was held April 26 and 27 at the Oregon State Fairgrounds in Salem.

“It is another good venue to show people what we do, to show people the face of agriculture and connect to the consumer. And what better way to connect than showing kids what we do,” Pond said.

“We’ve had a natural progression of the distancing between the farm and the consumer,” Pond said. “Every opportunity that we can take to share with the consumer what it takes to be a farmer is an opportunity we should embrace.”

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