Wild Blueberry Association of North America (WBANA) welcomes Patrick O’Neil as new executive director

April 29, 2024

Toronto, ON. Canadian wild blueberry growers, producers and members of the Wild Blueberry Association of North America (WBANA) are pleased to announce the hire of food and agriculture industry veteran, Patrick O’Neil to the position of executive director of the association, effective immediately.

Mr. O’Neil brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the role, having spent close to 25 years at Ontario Pork, a not-for-profit organization representing pork farmers in Ontario. There, he led the organization’s marketing division for ten years, helping farmers manage their risk and negotiate supply agreements while developing his strongly held view that agriculture organizations must earn their members’ business every day. In his other key roles, he worked on farm support programs, including the development of Ontario’s Risk Management Program for Hogs; market access, including Canada’s World Trade Organization challenge to US Country of Origin Labelling requirements; and policy development, including advocating for policy changes at the Canadian Pork Council.

“I’m humbled to be selected for this important role at WBANA Canada,” said Mr. O’Neil. “I look forward to working with all of WBANA’s grower and processor members, stakeholders and global partners, while doing my part to let the world know about the many extraordinary health benefits of wild blueberries, and the key role the wild blueberry industry plays for our country’s economy.”

Patrick O’Neil was raised on a farm in south-western Ontario and earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and political science from the University of Western Ontario, in London. Growing up on a farm, Patrick experienced production challenges and market volatility firsthand. As a father of three, he has learned the importance of compromise and open communication, all of which he hopes to apply in his new position.

Mr. O’Neil’s appointment coincides with the upcoming retirement of former WBANA executive director, Mr. Neri Vautour of New Brunswick, following more than twenty years successfully directing the association. Mr. Vautour’s notable achievements are many, including steering international market growth, and spearheading significant marketing efforts in Japan, China, Europe and the UK, in addition to here in Canada. Mr Vautour also played a key role in ongoing, leading global health research on blueberries, while communicating wild blueberries’ key benefits internationally.

The industry

Growing wild blueberries is a source of considerable pride for Canadian producers, who offer international consumers healthy products that meet the most rigorous health, safety, and quality standards in the world. By choosing Canadian wild blueberries, whether fresh or frozen, consumers not only support the local economy, but also recognize the dedicated work of local producers. WBANA promotes the health benefits of wild blueberries internationally and encourages Canadians to eat fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy lifestyle. Consumers can purchase frozen wild blueberries in their local supermarket all year; one simply needs to ensure the word “wild” is stated on the package.


WBANA is an international trade association of growers and processors of wild blueberries from Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, and Maine, dedicated to bringing the wild blueberry health story and unique wild advantages to consumers and the trade worldwide. The Canadian affiliate of the Wild Blueberry Association of North America (WBANA Canada) is implementing measures to support the development and expansion of international wild blueberry markets. Increased demand for the wild blueberry is helping to boost production and create jobs in many regions of Eastern Canada. Blueberries are the country’s most important fruit crop, occupying more than half of all fruit-growing acreage in Canada. Wild blueberries are exported to more than thirty countries, including the United States, Japan, and Germany. For more information, news, recipes, and related health information visit www.wildblueberryassociation.ca and @canadianwildbb.


Media: For more information or to schedule an interview or broadcast segment with Patrick O’Neil at the Wild Blueberry Association of North America, please contact Susan Willemsen at The Siren Group Inc. Tel: (416) 461-1567 or M; 416-402-4880. Email: susan@thesirengroup.com and @thesirengroup.Bottom of Form