Foodservice demand remains strong for Michigan blueberries and other commodities, shippers say.
Michigan blueberries got a major boost when fast-food titan McDonald’s added an oatmeal item that contains fresh blueberries.
But foodservice in general is benefiting from recent technological breakthroughs in the washing of blueberries, said Brian Bocock, vice president of product management in the Grand Junction, Mich., office of Naples, Fla.-based Naturipe Farms LLC.
“It’s created a ready-to-eat product that’s fresh,” Bocock said. “Foodservice hasn’t had that vehicle. Demand is high with foodservice, and we think we can get it higher.”
That goes for establishments ranging from mom-and-pop white tablecloth restaurants to the biggest of the big chains, Bocock said.
“All of foodservice wants more fresh berries,” he said. “The issue is, can we get them the product so they can execute at a high level?”
One thing is clear: When the category leader bets big on blueberries, you can bet others won’t be far behind, Bocock said.
“Everybody wants to look at that option,” he said.
Foodservice demand is strong across the board for Hudsonville-based Superior Sales, regardless of the size of restaurant, said Todd DeWaard, sales manager.
“Even with the poor economy, foodservice stayed strong,” he said. “It’s certainly an upward trend.”
Superior’s sales lean slightly toward foodservice over retail, DeWaard said.