The U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, Folsom, Calif., works with communications agency Lewis & Neale Inc., New York, to encourage blueberry consumption.
This summer, the council and the agency are working on multiple promotions designed to reach a broad base of consumers through schools, media and other channels.
During the week of July 12, the council announced its sponsorship of the School Nutrition Association’s National School Breakfast Week 2011, said Ruth Lowenberg, senior vice president of Lewis & Neale and a spokeswoman for the council.
The School Breakfast Detectives-themed campaign will run from January to March, and will culminate in National School Breakfast Week in March. The week’s menu lists pancakes with blueberry topping.
Frozen blueberries are a U.S. Department of Agriculture commodity item that’s available at low cost to schools participating in the National School Lunch Program, so sponsorship of the Breakfast Week is a good opportunity to encourage school food service managers to use more of them.
The agency and council piloted a program with seven schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District to encourage foodservice managers to use more blueberries.
As part of the program, children took home a council brochure, “Get On Board with Blueberries,” which featured child-friendly recipes, games and information, said Kathy Blake, associate vice president of Lewis & Neale and a council spokeswoman.
Blake said they also work with university foodservice directors to develop ways to use more blueberries on their menus.
Mark Villata, the council’s executive director, said another pilot program involved donating blueberry bushes to elementary schools in March and April. Lowenberg said 20 schools received a bush from a local grower who provided planting instructions and other information.
Villata said EatingWell magazine’s website, www.eatingwell.com, is one forum the council uses to reach consumers who are interested in being healthy. The site has more than 700,000 unique visitors per month, he said.
The council sponsored an EatingWell blueberry advertorial that includes serving suggestions and nutritional information.
The advertorial contains a link to the council’s own website, www.blueberrycouncil.org. In June, the council’s website had more than 17,000 unique visitors, Lowenberg said. In mid-July, she predicted July’s number of visitors would be closer to 20,000.