In recent years, the South African fruit industry has been booming. While citrus and avocado are the main sectors that are gaining the most attention, other crops such as blueberries are increasingly emerging from the shadows.
In South Africa, the blueberry industry continues to expand. In 2020, fruit exports reached 15,636 tonnes, 27% more than last year (12,221 tonnes). This is what the newly renamed Berries ZA Association of South Africa (SABPA) has announced.
With this feat, the sector is showing its resilience in the face of the coronavirus pandemic which has severely affected the Western Cape province, the main production area with 60% of the national stock. In addition, the performance confirms the good momentum started by the sector for the past 5 years.
To understand the industry’s leap, it is important to know that current production represents nearly 10 times the 2015 level estimated at 1,792 tonnes.
This is thanks to farmers’ enthusiasm for the fruit which is increasingly in demand at most supermarket chains across the country like Woolworths, Checkers and Pick’n Pay. In addition, the number of people employed by the industry rose from 1,000 in 2014 to more than 8,000 in 2019.
For Justin Mudge, president of Berries ZA, the sector could continue its success story in the coming years and emerge as a global benchmark. In particular, the industry plans to increase the harvest to 62,000 tonnes and exports to 44,000 tonnes by 2024.
With the United Kingdom and the Netherlands as traditional outlets, which absorb 75% of exports, the industry plans to conquer new markets in the Far East. South Africa exports between 70% and 90% of its blueberry crop.
Source Ecofin Agency