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It’s peak blueberry season, and, whether it takes the form of a breakfast, dessert, or side item, the up-and-coming superfruit is finding its way to more menus across the quick-serve industry. Take, for example, Dairy Queen; the brand offers blueberries as toppings for sundaes, shakes, and malts, and is testing them in the breakfast daypart with yogurt parfaits. The company’s Orange Julius brand also features blueberries as a stand-alone item, paired with acai berries, or in smoothies.
The U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council (USHBC) has been working on modernizing blueberries’ image, repositioning them as “little blue dynamos” in an effort to target the ever-important Millennial generation. The USHBC hopes to double blueberry consumption by the end of the decade.
The organization recently held a three-day chef immersion at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, New York, to promote ways in which blueberries can be featured on menus. More than a dozen chefs and foodservice professionals representing both quick-service and full-service restaurants gathered at the CIA for blueberry tutelage, tasting, and tinkering.
“I see blueberries breaking out of the seasonal offerings,” Baratz says. “We will see them throughout the year, on the salad bar; in fresh-baked, low-fat bars; as beverages of all types, including energy drinks and smoothies; on made-to-order salads; in sauces on grilled chicken; [and] in salsas. “With the continued education for consumers on the health benefits,” Baratz adds, “consumption is sure to grow.”