The Global Berry Congress is leaping from England to California.

Industry and research representatives from Russia, New Zealand, Mexico and the United Kingdom are among those expected to attend the April 6-8 event at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Monterey, Calif.

Last year’s event was held in London.

“It brings together the global berry industry and gives us the opportunity to gain exposure and build relationships with international customers and suppliers,” said Joe Barsi, vice president of business development at Watsonville-based California Giant Berry Farms.

Barsi and Karina Frenkel of Russia-based Nevskaya Co. are featured speakers on new markets, one of several topics.

“(California Giant) was one of the first companies along with Driscoll’s to export strawberries direct into mainland China during the Olympics,” Barsi said. “We definitely look for opportunities to export into Asia, France and the United Kingdom, and a little in the Middle East.

Naturipe Farms, one of the event’s sponsors, is already a global company, said Jim Roberts, vice president of sales.

“We’re owned by one partner in South America and we have a sister company, Euroberry, operating in the European marketplace,” he said. “That drives this, plus we’re trying to drive consumption worldwide as production rises, particularly on blueberries.”

Worldwide blueberry production is expected to double within four years.

The percentage of U.S. strawberries exported remains in single digits, Roberts said, thanks to strong production in Spain, Morocco and Italy. But the emergence of a growing middle class in places such as India, Russia and the Middle East is pushing up demand for all berries.

“They have more disposable income, their diets are changing and things once considered a luxury are becoming a staple,” Roberts said.

Others congress speakers include representatives from Well-Pict Berries; Raley’s; The Perishables Group; Sun Belle; Kantar Worldpanel; Planamerica; Plant & Food Research; Fall Creek Farm & Nursery; and the Chilean Blueberry Committee.