African Blue president Avi Weizman
Moroccan blueberry producer African Blue is spreading supply of its key varieties with strong volumes heading to Britain where consumers are “crazy” for the premium fruit.
Around 40% of African Blue’s blueberry production goes to the UK, including the main variety Kirra as well as Arana, noted for its larger size and excellent bloom.
“The difference is the timing and those (Arana) are a little bit bigger. Kirra is our main variety but all of them are very tasty and very crunchy,” Weizman told PBUK at the African Blue stand during Fruit Logistica.
“We work on two special aspects; first of all in terms of quality, we concentrate of premium quality at all times. We don’t pack any fruit that is not edible or of extremely high quality. If you look at our punnets, you will always see excellent premium berries inside.”
“Another good test for quality is that we always have a good bloom on the fruit. These aspects are highly appreciated by consumers all over the world, particularly in the UK.”
Weizman explains the significance of the UK market, saying African Blue could ramp up volumes which would easily be absorbed by Britain, but the berry specialists have to diversify supply for a “good spread around the world.”
“As opposed to other customers, like those in Chile and elsewhere, they are not so much concerned with such high quality so this helps us to stand out.
“For us the UK market is very important and around 40% of our production is sold there, not because we cannot sell more but because we also want to sell in other countries and not to put all of our berries in one basket.
“The British market is absolutely crazy about our varieties as they recognise the premium quality and excellent taste. UK consumers love them and cannot get enough of them. The berry category is now considered number one in the UK so there is huge potential for now and the years to come.”
African Blue uses varieties from Australia’s Costa Group which owns 49% of the company; the rest is owned by Weizman himself and Ireland-based powerhouse Total Produce has a 10% share.
Created in 2007 in Morocco, African Blue initially concentrated on exports to the EU but has since expanded in Russia and Asian countries. Weizman adds how new markets are still being explored across Europe, including Agia.
There is more than 300 hectares of land under production with a development plan to reach 400 hectares by 2018.
“More and more growers are coming on board these days since the boom in blueberries the next five years or so will be very interesting for the category,” adds Weizman.