Strawberries are the firm’s most popular foodservice item, followed by blueberries, raspberries and blackberries.
Sales in all categories are increasing, Jewell said.
“It’s probably a rarity when you don’t see a berry — fresh or in some form — in a restaurant when you walk into it,” said Mike Klackle, vice president of berry sales for Curry & Co. LLC, Brooks, Ore.
That includes fast food, white-tablecloth or a casual dining establishment, he said.
“It’s an important part of the distribution” at Curry & Co., he said.
The Folsom, Calif.-based U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council includes foodservice in its promotional campaign, said Mark Villata, executive director.
The council has been working with the Culinary Institute of America’s chef education programs and recently conducted a presentation at its Hyde Park, N.Y., campus where council representatives showed applications for blueberries.
“Foodservice is definitely an area that we are interested in,” Villata said.
The council is pushing chefs to use more fresh — not just frozen and dried — blueberries in their restaurants, since they now are available year-round, he said.
There was a drop off in terms of restaurants’ share of the food dollar in 2009 and 2010, but the industry rebounded in 2011, Christian said, and that upward tick is expected to continue.
National Restaurant Association surveys have shown increases every month during 2012, she said.
“Indicators are that the industry is recovering, and it seems to be a fairly strong and consistent recovery,” she said.
Jewell agreed, saying, “Foodservice is coming back really strong.”