Cat McKenzie, marketing director for the Oregon Raspberry and Blackberry Commission said marketing cane berries has similarities but also some key differences with marketing other berries.
“For one thing, our very first concern is taste, and that’s for any berry, but blackberries and raspberries also have a lot of past memories associated with them,” she said.
“Blackberries, especially, bring back those memories if people ever used to pick them in the wild during the summer, so they have that fond connotation. Both raspberries and blackberries are well loved,” McKenzie said.
The increase in berry purchases at farmers markets supports this trend, especially since the fresh season is so short.
McKenzie said fresh blackberries and raspberries are only available from Oregon for a few weeks each summer. After that, there are fresh frozen berries and imports.
“There is a growing demand for fresh blackberries and raspberries. People are really beginning to buy a lot of them at farmers markets,” she said.
Currently, McKenzie said only 5% of Oregon berries are consumed in the fresh market.
Jim Grabowski, director of marketing, Well-Pict Berries, for Watsonville, Calif., said he has seen raspberry demand increase, but that supplies seem to be keeping up with demand right now.
Marketing blackberries is often largely based on nutritional attributes, at least for California Giant Berry Farms Inc., Watsonville, Calif., said Cindy Jewell, director of marketing.
“Research has shown that the darker the berry, the more nutritional it is,” Jewell said. “People tend to promote and purchase blackberries, and blueberries, for that reason.”
“Not only do people know berries taste great, but they also know how important they are to a healthy diet,” she said.
One cup of blackberries has the same amount of fiber as the same serving of bran cereal, McKenzie said.
“The message that people can get that kind of fiber, about 7.5 grams, in a great tasting way, is really helping increase the demand,” she said.
Oregon grown berries
McKenzie said blackberries and raspberries are also often marketed as local Oregon produce.
“We try to let people know that Oregon is the largest commercial producer of blackberries in the country,” she said.
Chefs in the area have taken a real interest in the local product as well.
“We love working with chefs that are really elevating these berries and taking them to a whole new level beyond just the berry pies and berry cobblers,” McKenzie said.
The Oregon commission is also focused on increasing raspberry and blackberry usage in schools.
“We’re doing our best to get recipes out there for folks, and the Oregon Department of Agriculture is going a great job of increasing the use of Oregon produce in schools as well,” McKenzie said.