Developing successful marketing strategies for elderberry growers and value added processors: a model for specialty crop development in the U.S. Midwest.

Final Report for LNC10-324

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2010: $105,427.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2013
Region: North Central
State: Missouri
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Michael Gold
MU Center for Agroforestry
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Project Information


Market and consumer elderberry research results reveal show a nascent industry with mostly small scale participants poised for growth. Demand trends are favorable and prices are good across the value chain. Challenges include a limited domestic supply of fruit, few regionally adapted varieties suitable for commercial production, and high labor costs. The absence of existing mechanical harvesting equipment limits industry growth. Opportunities exist to increase the domestic elderberry industry across the value chain. Outreach publications and on-farm workshops and conferences support individual producers and the Missouri elderberry industry including an ongoing elderberry producer cooperative.



Both within the U.S. and globally, concerns about industrial agriculture practices, food quality and links to human health have fostered interest in new, alternative, local, and more sustainable agricultural practices. Organic and locally grown foods are perceived by consumers as healthier and safer for both people and the environment. The production and sale of all types of berries have benefited from increased consumer health consciousness.

In 2002, Missouri had 508 farms involved in berry production, with a total of 774 acres under cultivation. Berries yield 2-5 tons per acre depending on the crop, with average on-farm price of $0.90 per pound. Missouri’s berry business contributes an estimated $6.9 million in revenue to Missouri’s agricultural producers [1]. Specialty berries, including elderberries, chokeberries, loganberries, and blackberries are gaining in popularity, especially as juice product. Specialty berry products can be found in sale venues ranging from health food stores to big grocery chains.  

Elderberry is a perennial shrub native to North America with a variety of uses and benefits. Elderberries can be grown without use of pesticides in sustainable agroforestry systems to generate income while simultaneously protecting and conserving soil, water and other natural resources. They are perennial plants that grow well in upland and riparian forest buffers and in alley cropping configurations to help control erosion and nonpoint source pollution. Elderberries are beautiful landscape plants that attract butterflies and provide wildlife habitat.

Elderberry has been recognized for treating a variety of ailments [2,3,4] which makes it a valuable raw material for the nutraceutical industry. The fruit can be used to make jams, jellies, syrups and wines on a small or commercial scale. Demand for elderberry fruit and flowers are increasing from winemakers, jelly processors and nutraceutical companies. At present, demand is being met via elderberry imports from Europe. Global prices for elderberry are relatively high, and demand is expected to continue to grow [5].

In contrast to Europe, elderberry is not well known or widely utilized in the U.S. Historically, a limited amount of elderberry research has occurred in the North East region. Over the past 10 years the North Central region has taken a very active role in both elderberry production research and industry development. Active research has been conducted by University of Missouri (MU) and Missouri State University to identify native elderberry cultivars best suited for Midwest soils, as well as the best production techniques and management practices for cultivation of elderberries in agroforestry settings. Two new high yielding cultivars have recently been released. Plants take 3 to 4 years to reach full maturity, and will yield between 3 to 4 tons of berries per acre. Wholesale prices for fruit in Missouri range from $0.50 to $0.75 (wholesale) per pound. In addition to research producers in Midwest are already involved in the elderberry industry with potential to grow. A group of growers in Missouri started to produce elderberry and to organize themselves to sustain a value added enterprise and a winery in Kansas is the largest value added elderberry producer in the U.S.

However, up-to-date information is lacking with regard to market size, growth trends, and competition, as well as on the economic benefits and costs of elderberry intercropping and value added processing. Gathering and organizing marketing and financial information will improve producer decision making for on-farm and associated enterprise opportunities and provide support to the newly developing industry. Results of this study will be published as extension “how to” guides, in refereed journals, and on the MU Center for Agroforestry website. Research outputs will be also disseminated through outreach programs (field days, workshops, conference presentation, guides and directories) to meet the needs of a growing group of elderberry producers and processors. Presentations to local, regional, and national conferences will assist existing and potential producers and value added processors and serve as a model for new specialty crop development and adoption in the U.S. Project activities will also increase consumer awareness about the nutritional properties, health benefits and value added products made from elderberry. Information gained will help grow the industry by promoting elderberry and elderberry benefits and demonstrate that elderberry is a viable Midwest specialty crop. Increased acreage planted to sustainable woody perennial crops will improve ecosystem health (water, soil, air quality) and diversify habitat.

The presence of extensive production research in Missouri, partnerships with active research and extension specialists, a group of Missouri growers ready to start producing and marketing elderberries and the largest value-added elderberry processor in the U.S. will help connect all the necessary pieces to make sure that our research and outreach efforts will be targeted to the needs of our partners to the benefit of all landowners that wish to adopt sustainable farming practices and generate increased income in the region.

Literature review.

The elderberry (Sambucus nigra) is a native fruit-bearing shrub common in western and central Europe, Scandinavia, and Great Britain. The species found in North America is Sambucus canadensis. Commercial elderberry production is concentrated in Europe in Denmark, Italy, Austria and Germany. Both the flower and the fruit are used in Europe to produce fermented drinks, as a source of food coloring and as dye. Elderberries are used in combination with other fruits for making wines and jams which are rich in vitamins A and C. Historians trace the tradition of the elderberry’s healing power back to Hippocrates, the ancient Greek known as the “father of medicine,” who described this plant as his “medicine chest” for the wide variety of ailments it seemed to cure [6]. Elderberry leaves are considered to be a purgative, an expectorant, and a diuretic. Elderberry leaf ointment is a traditional remedy for coughs, sinus congestion and reducing swelling of sore throats. The berries are used as a remedy for constipation, colic, diarrhea, colds and rheumatism. The flowers are used in treatment of allergies and arthritis. Tea from elderberry flowers is used against cold and high fever. Research indicates that elderberry extract is useful for cold, cough and flu, as well as for heart protection and stress reduction [7]. Elderberry is also used in the cosmetic industry for facial toners and cleansers [8]. The colorant from the fruit is used in wines, as a dye, and as a natural food colorant. New research from Israel and Finland suggests that elderberry is a powerful antioxidant, inhibits influenza virus and the herpes simplex virus [6].

Currently, Europe has an established elderberry industry. Austrian elderberry production is estimated at 8,000 tons of cultivated elderberry per year and this production volume is increasing due to strong market demand. One thousand Austrian growers are organized in a cooperative with rigid schedules for harvesting, trucking and cooling berries. The co-op handles in full season between 600 and 1,600 tons per day [7]. In Canada, demand for elderberry is expected to increase due to a growing demand for nutraceuticals, functional foods and other products derived from elderberry. Marketing efforts should be focused on educating consumers about the benefits of elderberry consumption [9].

The literature about elderberry production and marketing in the U.S. is very scarce. An Elderberry Improvement Project was initiated in Missouri in 1997. The project has three components: 1) collection of native elderberry germplasm and study of phenology and plant growth, harvest date, yield, panicle size, berry size, fruit quality, and disease and insect problems, 2) replicated evaluation trials of superior native germplasm to identify elderberry cultivars with sufficient merit for release and commercial planting and 3) cultural studies (i.e., pruning, and leaf foliar nutritive content) [10]. Additional studies have focused on pruning techniques, elderberry antioxidants and DNA fingerprinting of different cultivars.

On the marketing side, Dr. Weeder-Einspahr conducted in 2001 a Midwest regional market assessment for small fruits, including elderberries. Using guided telephone interviews, 66 jam and jelly manufacturers and 57 wineries were contacted in Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, Missouri, and South Dakota. Information collected included types and form of fruit used, current fruit source, quality criteria, annual quantities sources and prices paid. The study found that companies in the region used about 90,000 pounds/year of fresh or frozen elderberries in products ranging from jams, jellies, syrups and wines. Prices paid averaged $0.75 per pound of fruit. Some value-added producers sourced their product (juice concentrate) from Europe and the Pacific Northwest region. The study found that many of the jam and jelly companies in the Midwestern U.S. are small, often pick their own fruit from wild sources and process it themselves. However, several larger jam and jelly manufacturers do purchase large amounts of fresh fruit from growers, often under a verbal contract. Most wineries purchase concentrate from national suppliers, but also purchase fresh fruit when available. Smaller growers of fresh fruits for jam, jelly and wine markets have the best potential for success if they partner with these companies to produce fruit under contract. However, given the overall volumes of fruit used by this industry in the Midwest, commercial production would be limited to a relatively small number of growers. In contrast, juice processors require large quantities and greater production investments by the grower. The possibility of addressing these markets in combination with others (e.g., nutraceuticals, organic colorings, etc.), and expansion of sales from small to medium processors could provide a market of sufficient size for a number of producers [11].

According to an article published in New York Berry News [12], most of the elderberries grown in the Midwest are harvested for processing markets. Several wineries produce elderberry wines from the fruit, while the flowers and panicles are used to flavor wines. Elderberry juice or fruit are used for jam and jelly. Elderberry juice and concentrates are marketed as nutraceuticals. The pigments in elderberry juice are suitable for colorant use.

The proposed project will build upon previously research funded by SARE. In 2002, SARE funded a R&E project (LNE 02-162) that studied nutritional benefits, cultural and processing practices and a feasibility/marketing study of ribes, aronia and elderberries in the NE region. The proposed project, focusing exclusively on elderberry, will have immediate application in the newly emerging center of elderberry development, the NC region.

A completed project funded in 2005 (LNC 05-256), Organic Production and Marketing of Forest Medicinals: Building and Supporting a Learning Community among Growers used a similar approach to inform growers. The project proved to be successful in assisting a growers association to develop a learning network among growers, close the gap between growers and research activities and support the association entering the marketplace.

Project Objectives:

This project takes an integrated approach to specialty crop development combining marketing and financial research (supported by ongoing long-term production research) with outreach efforts. Outcomes will be enhanced by formation of clusters of elderberry growers and value-added producers and their integration into regional collaborative networks. This project will provide information essential to the growth and development of a regional elderberry industry. The main outcomes and outcome indicators of the project include: * Increased producer/value-added processor adoption of elderberry as a profitable and sustainable specialty crop * 12 new farms will begin elderberry production * 8 wineries will add or increase elderberry wine production * 10 value added producers will initiate or increase use of elderberry in their product mix * In-depth information created to support producer decision making process for on-farm and associated value added enterprise opportunities * Increased knowledge about the elderberry market, future trends and growth potential * Integrated elderberry Financial Decision Support Model to assist multiple level decision makers from the family farmer to the agricultural lender * Increased knowledge about consumer preferences and target markets * 100 individuals trained in elderberry marketing via workshops * 100 individuals trained in elderberry winemaking principles via workshops * 200 individuals trained in elderberry production via field days * Expanded elderberry value added production * Generate options for higher rates of return for producers by adding value through product processing * Increased coordination among industry players * Development of a learning network among growers * Integration of growers and producers into regional cuisine networks in Missouri and the Midwest for greater visibility, joint marketing, and agri-tourism opportunities * Work towards obtaining geographical indication recognition for Midwest elderberries * Increased demand for elderberry products (10% increase in regional demand) * Increased consumer awareness about elderberry (5,000 to 7,500 individuals directly exposed to elderberry value-added products via the Missouri Chestnut Roast and all the events organized at the University of Missouri Research Centers, Eridu Farms, and Wyldewood Cellars) * Increase consumption of elderberry products with associated nutrition and health benefits


Click linked name(s) to expand/collapse or show everyone's info
  • Francisco Aguilar
  • Park Bay
  • John Brewer
  • Patrick Byers
  • Mihaela Cernusca
  • Terry Durham
  • Larry Godsey
  • Julie Rhoads
  • Andrew Thomas


Materials and methods:

Market research:

The purpose of the market research study is to identify the market participants along the value chain, current status and future trends in the elderberry industry, elderberry market limitations, risks and potential opportunities for elderberry producers and processors. A combination of quantitative and qualitative methods will be used to accomplish our research objectives. Quantitative methods will be used to obtain information such as, number of companies, sales, volume, production size, production operation, trends in demand and supply, etc. [13,14,15]. Because little is known about the elderberry market and market participants (i.e., uncertainty about the number of elderberry growers and processors, lack of addresses for businesses involved in the elderberry industry, lack of official information about the industry), qualitative methods will be also used as an exploratory and developmental market research tool. The theoretical model is based on the Porter Five Forces Model (PFFM) [16] and has been successful in shedding light on the “black box” of specialty crops including the red cedar, chestnut and shiitake mushroom markets [13, 14, 15]. The PFFM looks at five areas of competition that market participant’s face. These areas include: barriers to entry, bargaining power of suppliers, bargaining power of buyers, threat of substitute products and rivalry among existing firms. Both interview and survey questions will be designed to provide information about the five forces that have influence on the market.

Qualitative research: Semi-structured interviews will be conducted with representative market participants to get a general understanding of the market, create a base for a quantitative survey design and identify new market participants. To assure thoroughness, main questions, follow-up questions and probes will be designed to guide the interview. The main questions will follow the theoretical model, addressing all forces that influence competition based on PFFM. Questions will be modified if necessary during the interview or for subsequent interviews to make sure that meaningful information is obtained. Follow-up questions will be developed as necessary to fill gaps in information, complete ideas, define and explain terms, or elaborate on implied concepts. Interviewees will be chosen to represent different backgrounds and experiences [17]. To assure accuracy, all interviews will be audio recorded using a digital recorder, after obtaining participants’ permission to record. Notes will also be taken during the interview by using an interview protocol. All interviews will be transcribed verbatim. Based on collected data, concepts, themes and events will be identified, refined, elaborated and integrated. Codes will be assigned to the main concepts and themes, and information will be sorted, summarized and analyzed. A final report will be developed.

Quantitative research: A questionnaire-based survey will be developed. A combination of yes/no, closed and open ended questions will be designed to collect general information about the market participants (i.e., activities performed, questions about utilization of brand name, advertising and publicity, size of operation, degree of involvement in the production of elderberry, management practices) and information specific to each of the Porter’s five forces [17]. Questionnaires will be mailed to all individuals identified through Internet research, interviews, and recommendations according to Dillman’s recommended procedure [18]. Appropriate statistical methods and techniques (e.g., descriptive statistics and correlations) will be used to analyze data with SPSS software.

Financial analysis

An economic analysis of the price structure along the value chain for different value added products will help us identify the best pricing strategies to recommend to elderberry value added producers. To successfully add value to products, a producer/processor must develop a product and marketing strategy that will increase the bundle of benefits to the consumer. For elderberry, value can be added in many ways: by destemming, freezing, or drying the fresh fruit; by extracting juice, or making wine; by bottling the juice or wine; by making jelly or concentrate; by increasing the product functionality by marketing the elderberry’s unique benefits; making it easier for the customer to obtain the product; package into smaller units desired by the customer; by providing information and recipes; by packaging and labeling to help differentiate the product and build brand loyalty among customers, etc. The information obtained in the market research study will help us identify prices along the value chain and identify all steps and activities that add value to the original product.

A partial budget model will be used to estimate the profitability of different elderberry alley cropping scenarios. Partial budget analysis is a standard technique to assess the economics of a change in farm enterprise [19] when the change involves only part of the production system [20] The partial budget technique compares the negative effect of applying a new treatment relative to a standard treatment to the positive effects associated to the new treatment relative to the standard treatment. The effects considered are changes in costs and revenue.

Consumer analysis

The study of consumer preferences for elderberry will be derived from a random utility model [21]. The random utility model is made operational using a Conditional Logit econometric specification. Conditional Logit will include product-specific elderberry characteristics (i.e. product price, size, etc.) and respondent-specific variables (i.e. region, gender, age, etc.). Conjoint Analysis (CA) will be the empirical method used to estimate consumer preferences for elderberry following the Conditional Logit specification. CA is based on the premise that consumers can judge the value of a collection of hypothetical elderberry products, which are described by different characteristics that make up product profiles, and choose the one which gives them the most utility. The hypothetical elderberry product will be described in a number of profiles that will include varying product characteristics. The generated profiles will be included in a survey questionnaire together with demographic questions (e.g.,, age, gender, level of education, and total household income)). Respondents will be asked to review a number of pairs of hypothetical elderberry products and select one product (A or B) that they would be most likely to purchase. CA helps determine a set of partworths for the individual elderberry characteristics that are consistent with the respondent’s overall preferences. The partworths identify the relative importance that consumers place on each particular characteristic [21].

Cluster analysis and analysis of variance techniques will be used to identify and describe particular consumer segments. Cluster analysis is a term applied to a group of empirical techniques used for classification of objects without prior assumptions about their population [22]. Cluster analysis classifies objects or variables so that each object is very similar to others in the cluster. In this study Cluster Analysis will segment the market and create buyer profiles to help identifying different niche markets characterized by differing preferences for product attributes, prices, etc. Cluster analysis can be performed on socio-demographic information such as income, age, education level, preferences for other products, U.S. region, preferred purchase location (farmer’s markets, retailer, others). Cluster analysis will be followed by discriminant analysis to assess optimality and efficiency of the groups generated by the cluster analysis.

Research results and discussion:

Up-to-date information is lacking with regard to the elderberry market or market potential. This research identifies the market participants along the value chain, the current status of the industry, direction, future trends, and elderberry market limitations as well as risks and potential opportunities for elderberry producers and processors. A combination of quantitative (mail survey) and qualitative (phone interview) methods have been used. The theoretical model used for the survey and interview development and analysis is based on the Porter Five Forces Model (PFFM) which describes the competitive forces that coordinate and control the market. Seventy-four mail survey responses and 20 follow-up phone interviews provided information on the market participants, challenges, opportunities and competitive forces in the elderberry industry. Results show a nascent industry with mostly small scale participants poised for growth. Demand trends are favorable and prices are good across the value chain. Challenges include a limited domestic supply of fruit, few regionally adapted varieties suitable for commercial production, and high labor costs. Additionally, the absence of existing mechanical harvesting equipment limits future production potential and industry growth. Respondents identified low levels of competition within the industry at the present time. Based on identified market size and demand, opportunities exist to increase the domestic elderberry industry across the value chain.  Cernusca, M.M., L.D. Godsey and M.A. Gold. 2012. Using the Porter Model to Analyze the U.S. Elderberry Industry. Agroforestry Systems. 86(3):365-377.

Based on the above-mentioned national elderberry market research study and using qualitative data analysis tools, this paper focuses on understanding market barriers for elderberry producers and processors in a young and rapidly growing industry. Our research concentrated on understanding the motivation, challenges and unforeseen opportunities of the small number of entrepreneurial firms in the elderberry market and the way they start shaping a new industry and challenge market boundaries. Understanding all the market barriers can be used to create advantages for the future for current and potential market participants. Twenty in-depth phone interviews were analyzed with NVivo 8, a qualitative data analysis software tool, which facilitated a rigorous and efficient approach to data analysis. Results identified barriers to entry consistent with the ones existing in an established, competitive industry such as economies of scale, cost advantages for existing firms, the investment needed for start-up, the lack of necessary information, and steep learning curves. In addition, the high level of uncertainty that characterizes a nascent industry including the reluctance of banks to provide loans, existing prejudices, and the low awareness towards elderberry and its properties, pose extra challenges to entry and success in the marketplace. This research sheds light on the challenges and opportunities that exist in a nascent industry and provides suggestions to overcome the challenges.  Cernusca, M.M. and M.A. Gold. 2014. Breaking Down Market Barriers for Elderberry Growers and Producers. Acta Horticulturae. In press.

Increased production of North American Elderberry (Sambucus Canadensis) for its use in value-added secondary products is a prime example of the growth in non-traditional agroforestry products markets. Nonetheless, greater demand of elderberry products may be fostered through a better understanding of consumer preferences. With detailed information of the consumer market for elderberry products, prospective firms can develop strategies to enter the elderberry industry and firms currently supplying the market can develop strategies to increase their market share. The research is composed of both local exploratory consumer research and a national consumer preferences survey. The local exploratory research included: (1) a local consumer survey and (2) a consumer focus group. Information gained in exploratory research was then used to create an effective online consumer preference survey. The online survey gathered information from 1,048 household from the continental United States on their preferences for elderberry juice and jelly products. A cluster analysis was applied to define consume market segments based on how healthy respondents identified their lifestyles and whether they had purchased elderberry products. The four market segments were composed of health conscious elderberry consumers, less health conscious elderberry consumers, health conscious prospective consumers and less health conscious prospective consumers. A choice-based conjoint analysis was then used in the survey to estimate consumer sensitivity to product attributes of price, health related claims and the origin labels. As a result of the study, firms selling elderberry products will be able to increase the sale of their products through effective market strategies. Mohebalian, P. 2011. U.S. Consumer Preferences for Elderberry Products. M.S. Thesis, University of Missouri.

Increased production of the North American Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) for its use in value-added specialty products is a prime example of the growth and potential of nontraditional agroforestry product markets. A consumer survey was conducted at the 2010 Missouri Chestnut Roast Festival to evaluate the importance of elderberry product attributes based on consumer segmentation and evaluated existing consumer knowledge and opinions of elderberry products. Using a cluster analysis respondents were classified into two clearly defined market segments. The first cluster was composed of individuals who identify themselves as being very health conscious in their life style and consumption habits. These individuals were found to be more likely to be female and on average significantly older with ages ranging between 46 and 55. The second cluster was composed of individuals that identified themselves as being less health conscious than cluster one. These individuals were more likely male and on average significantly younger than the first cluster being between 36 and 45. Both market segments identified the price of the product and organic certification as being the most important attributes in making elderberry juice purchasing decisions. This information was used to develop a more extensive conjoint analysis survey to evaluate national and niche markets for elderberry juice. Mohebalian, P.M. M.M. Cernusca and F.X. Aguilar. 2012. Discovering Niche Markets for Elderberry Juice in the United States. HortTechnology 22(4):556-566.

This study is the first of its kind in eliciting U.S. consumer preferences for elderberry juice and jelly products. An online survey collected self-reported information from 1043 U.S. residents. Results of a conjoint analysis suggest elderberry products that disclose qualified health claims and are produced locally were the best positioned to compete for greater shares in the jelly and juice product markets. Consumers valued product price, disclosure of health claims, and origin. Consumers were 3.7 times more likely to choose locally produced jelly products than imported jelly and twice as likely to select products disclosing health claims compared with jelly products without claims. Likewise, consumers were 3.3 times more likely to choose locally produced juice products than imported juice products and 2.1 times more likely to select juice products with health claims than without. Our results indicate that an introductory strategy that combines the strength of preferences for locally produced products along with the disclosure of health claims at a competitive price can be an important tool in expanding the market for elderberry products in the United States. Mohebalian P., F.A. Aguilar, M.M. Cernusca. 2013. Conjoint Analysis of U.S. Consumers' Preference for Elderberry Jelly and Juice Products. HortScience. 48(3):338-346

Research conclusions:

What demonstrable impacts has the project had to date?

Since its inception, Missouri Elderberry Development Program activities have led directly to a new industry of 150 plus acres of commercial elderberry production in Missouri and surrounding states, worth an estimated $650,000 for the raw fruit alone. The majority of the elderberry acreage in Missouri is planted to cultivars selected and promoted by the Missouri Elderberry Development Program.

What demonstrable impacts do you expect the project to have in the future?

Comprehensive elderberry workshops involving active elderberry farmers, extension agents and researchers are continuing in 2014 and expected to continue in the future. Additional farmers and additional planted acreage is anticipated as a result of the ongoing commitment to the future development of this specialty crop.

Economic Analysis

The Elderberry Financial Decision Support Tool (EFDST) developed by Dr. Larry D. Godsey in 2012 is an Excel (©Microsoft Corporation) based model designed to assist with elderberry establishment and management decisions. This model allows the user to select multiple options from a list of the most common establishment, management, harvesting and marketing techniques to determine the techniques that will generate the best economic returns. Default methods and costs are based on current elderberry production methods; however, they may be modified by the user.


The EFDST includes an internal yield model that covers a 25-year rotation. In other words, the model assumes that the elderberry plants will be removed or replanted after 25 years. The cost of removal and replant at that time is not included in this model. The model also includes a random variable that reflects the potential yield risks from year to year. More specifically, the random risk variable attempts to model the fluctuations in yield caused by annual weather conditions and other unpredictable events.

The EFDST uses the financial indicators of net present value (NPV), present value of costs and revenues (PV), annual equivalent value (AEV), modified internal rate of return (MIRR), internal rate of return (IRR), and years to break even. It is important to note that the financial returns of the model represent returns to land and labor. In other words, most of the establishment labor is contracted as part of the cost, the management and harvesting labor is not included in the cost structure. It is also important to note that this model is based on the best information available at this time. It is intended as a guide, but not as a crystal ball. The purpose of this model is to identify how different establishment, management, harvesting and marketing decisions impact the financial outcome of the system. The model is accurate in predicting whether or not a decision will increase or decrease returns. However, it is not intended to provide a “promised” level of income.


Farmer Adoption

Extension outreach programming through the Missouri Elderberry Development Program in 2011-2014 has directly impacted an estimated 540 people at workshops and individual consultations, and evaluations reveal a substantial level of knowledge gain as a result of participation.

The publication Growing and Marketing Elderberries in Missouri, based on 15 years of research and experience, has had 2531 requests for the downloadable version since its publication in 2012.

A Midwest Elderberry Growers Association was established in 2011 (

Specific recommendations for farmers

We recommend that prospective farmers begin by carefully reviewing the published Agroforestry in Action guide - Growing and Marketing Elderberries in Missouri. The guide provides a comprehensive overview of the issues faced by elderberry growers.

Participation Summary

Educational & Outreach Activities

Participation Summary:

Education/outreach description:

Proceedings Publications

Mihaela M. Cernusca, M.A., M.A. Gold and L.D. Godsey. 2013. Breaking Down Market Barriers for Elderberry Growers and Producers. Proceedings First International Symposium on Elderberry. June 10-14, 2013. Columbia, MO. Abstract p. 48.

Chung-Ho Lin, C-H, H-Y Hsieh, G. Stewart, B. Thompson, X. Zou, N. Ullah, C-M Su, M. Gold and S. Jose. 2013. Exploring the Health Benefits and Economic Opportunities of the Bioactive Phytochemicals-An Overview of Phytochemical Research at the University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry. Proceedings First International Symposium on Elderberry. June 10-14, 2013. Columbia, MO. Abstract p. 49.

Thomas, A.L., D. Charlebois, C.M. Greenlief, P.L. Vincent, K.L. Fritsche, K.L. and K. Kaack, Editors. 2013. Proceedings of the First International Symposium on Elderberry. June 9-14, 2013, Columbia, Missouri USA.


Mohebalian, P. 2011. U.S. Consumer Preferences for Elderberry Products. M.S. Thesis, University of Missouri.

Refereed Publications

Mohebalian, P.M. M.M. Cernusca and F.X. Aguilar. 2012. Discovering Niche Markets for Elderberry Juice in the United States. HortTechnology 22(4):556-566.

Cernusca, M.M., L.D. Godsey and M.A. Gold. 2012. Using the Porter Model to Analyze the U.S. Elderberry Industry. Agroforestry Systems. 86(3):365-377.

Mohebalian P., F.A. Aguilar, M.M. Cernusca. 2013. Conjoint Analysis of U.S. Consumers' Preference for Elderberry Jelly and Juice Products. HortScience. 48(3):338-346

Cernusca, M.M. and M.A. Gold. 2014. Breaking Down Market Barriers for Elderberry Growers and Producers. Acta Horticulturae. In press.

 Other Publications

Elderberry Market Report

Elderberry Market Directory

Godsey, L.D. 2012. Elderberry Financial Decision Support Tool

Byers, P.L., A.L. Thomas, M.M. Cernusca, L.D. Godsey and M.A. Gold. 2012 (updated 2014). Elderberry “Agroforestry in Action” guide

 Evaluation Reports

Cernusca M.M., M.A. Gold. 2012. Elderberry Comprehensive Workshop Evaluation Report.

Cernusca M.M., M.A. Gold. 2012. Elderberry Winemaking Workshop Evaluation Report.

Brewer, John. 2012. Elderberry Winemaking Workshop Video.

Cernusca M.M., M.A. Gold. 2013. Elderberry Farmers Forum Evaluation Report.

Summary of the education and outreach programs and events, including field days

Activities in the past 3 years have led to improved understanding of elderberry production and challenges, planting of new elderberry acreage in Missouri, widespread planting of cultivars developed and publicized through the program, provided detailed market and consumer information, and are resulting in adoption of science-based production practices by Missouri elderberry producers.

  • Interviews with television, print, and radio media to publicize program activities
  • Release and promotion of 3 new elderberry cultivars
  • Publication of Elderberry Market Research (2011) and Growing and Marketing Elderberries in Missouri (2012/updated 2014)
  • Published content uploaded to University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry website
  • Terry Durham Farm elderberry workshops/festivals (2)
  • 2012 Comprehensive Elderberry Workshop
  • 2012 Elderberry Panel, Small Farm Today Conference
  • 2012 Elderberry Winemaking Workshop
  • 2012 Farmers Forum at the Small Farms National Trade Show & Conference
  • 2013 Farmers Forum, International Elderberry Symposium
  • Presentations at the Great Plains Growers Conference, New England Vegetable and Fruit Conference (2011), Minnesota Fruit and Vegetable Growers Conference (2014), and NACAA Conference (2012)
  • Presentations and outreach materials prepared to address Japanese beetle and spotted wing drosophila issues
  • Formation of the Midwest Elderberry Growers Association (2011)
  • 33 individual consultations with current and prospective elderberry producers

State and National Recognition – 2014

The Missouri elderberry development program was recognized as a State and National winner of the National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA) Search for Excellence in the category of Crop Production. Submitted by Patrick Byers, Regional Horticulture Specialist University of Missouri - Southwest Region. The submitted summary highlighted such activity as the Comprehensive Elderberry Workshop organized by the MU Center for Agroforestry and Riverhills Harvest, the Farmers Forum at the 2013 International Elderberry Symposium, the Elderberry Festivals hosted by Terry Durham, various presentations at growers’ conferences, and publications such as “Growing and Marketing Elderberries in Missouri” and “Elderberry Market Research Report”.

Project Outcomes


Areas needing additional study

Suggest areas for future research, demonstration or training.

Additional work is need to breed and test new cultivated varieties that are adapted to different regions around the Midwest (and elsewhere in the USA). A mechanical berry harvester is needed in order to scale up planted acreage for industry growth. Ongoing market and consumer research is needed to keep industry players up-to-date on the latest trends.

Information Products

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.