What an extraordinary week this has been.
Any hope for “business as usual” has been replaced with an understanding that business will never be the same.
Last night, here in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a statewide “stay-at-home” order, calling on residents to “stay home indefinitely and venture outside only for essential jobs, errands and some exercise.”
I’ve spent my week on emergency phone calls and videoconferences and I have to say, despite the added layer of tension and difficulty of circumstances, it has been very encouraging to hear how our sector of the food supply has been responding to the challenge.
I don’t get to see all of it, but what I have been able to be a part of has been a teamwork approach of trying to address labor issues, logistics issues, border crossing issues and, of course, addressing the spike in demand.
It was just two weeks ago I kicked off our time in Washington, D.C., with a keynote discussing our need to work together to help drive demand and address the supply challenge we were facing. Today, frozen blueberries are flying off the shelves at a record pace and grocery stores are reporting the difficulty of keeping shelf stable products on their shelves.
So what are we doing to help our industry navigate through these unprecedented times?
First, we’re listening.
We’re gathering all of the information from our growers and stakeholders – and certainly from the calls, meetings and discussions – about the impact COVID-19 is having on our industry, communities and the economy.
Next, we’re sharing.
We’ve put together an action plan of being a hub of communication for our industry specifically. There are a lot of questions, comments, concerns and suggestions that we’ve been receiving all week, and we’re putting together a centralized approach to summarizing all of that information in a place our blueberry industry can turn to as needed.
You all should be receiving a daily “COVID-19” update, and soon we’ll be launching a website landing page with pertinent information that we’ll continue to update as this situation unfolds.
Finally, we’re taking action.
What was in our plans for this week, next week, a month from now, all needs to be looked at again in light of COVID-19. The world has changed and our programs will be evolving to change with it. The blueberry industry is fortunate to have two organizations, the NABC and USHBC, working together right now to help address supply and demand challenges. We’re also fortunate to have a coalition of state organizations that are working through the variety of issues together to help ensure supply to our customers and consumers.
Working together makes a difference, and this industry has done a great job of making the investments in health research and health messaging, and having resources at the ready during times like these.
I recognize that COVID-19 has kept us from sharing as much as we’d hoped to coming out of our Spring Meetings. We’ll get back to that soon. That said, there were so many things we accomplished that week and we had some great moments together. Fortunately, we captured some of those through photography and those photos are all now available on Flickr. So, if you have a moment, I invite you to look back and enjoy these great photos from our time together.
Last, but not least, we’re still moving forward with our Fall Meetings planning. Specifically, the USHBC Innovation and Technology Committee is planning for our Tech Symposium. As part of that effort, we’ve launched a tech survey to capture the industry’s areas of interest in technology. Please take a few minutes to complete our tech survey. Your opinion matters to us and to the industry. We appreciate you making the effort during these challenging times.
If there’s anything you need or anything you see that needs to be considered as an industry, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly. I want to hear from you. Please let me know if you have any thoughts, questions or suggestions. You can do that by simply hitting reply to this email.
Stay safe out there and have a great weekend.