( U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council )

The U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council has contracted with the Sterling-Rice Group to lead its integrated foodservice marketing and promotional activities for the council and the blueberry industry.

SRG was selected for the USHBC account following a comprehensive review process, according to a news release, which included a final group of four contenders for the business.

The decision to hire SRG was made by the council’s promotion committee, a group of blueberry growers and marketers, according to the release.

“SRG came in with a distinctive approach to working with us as a business partner to help us drive the volume of sales of fresh and frozen blueberries,” Bob Carini, owner of Carini Farms in West Olive, Mich., and chair of the USHBC Promotion Committee, said in the release. “They have an impressive track record of working with and connecting commodities with large foodservice operators, finding creative ways to grow the channel and working with chefs to develop new ways for consumers to enjoy blueberries across menus and in different formats throughout the day.”

“This is an exciting opportunity and change for USHBC’s promotion and marketing efforts within the foodservice channel,” Kasey Cronquist, president of USHBC, said in the release. “We’re looking forward to working with the team at SRG on volume-driving opportunities over the next year.” 

SRG will build an integrated program that would offer research and insights, culinary innovation, promotional support and advertising to reach key decision-makers within the foodservice industry, according to the release. This business to business approach has helped the agency grow sales and volume for many global brands and U.S. commodity boards such as Avocados From Mexico, the Almond Board of California and Potatoes USA.

“We work extensively with growers and ranchers around the globe and understand their issues and priorities,” Amy Shipley, partner and managing director at SRG, said in the release. “Our understanding and experience working in foodservice and with restaurant operators directly will help us create a wide range of initiatives for the USHBC that will be measured across the foodservice channel in sales, not media impressions. The bottom line is what’s important to the growers.”

The release said USHBC will work with SRG to conduct a volumetric study to help determine how well blueberries are performing across foodservice operations, identify opportunities for expansion and measure the program’s success.

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