South Africa’s blueberry exports are forecast to rise by 20% in the upcoming season, according to a recently released USDA GAIN report.
Exports are expected to rise from 15,000MT in 2019 to 18,000MT in 2020, the report said, with production increasing by a similar amount to 22,000MT. This increase in exports is driven by the expansion of planted areas, with numerous international projects underway. All of these things demonstrate the “infant” stage of production the country’s blueberry industry is currently in, the report said.
It added that the development of the country’s berry sector has been strengthened significantly by the creation of the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and the South African Berry Producers Association (SABPA). Traditionally harvesting its fruit in September through mid-February.
The UK is the largest destination market for South African blueberries – taking a 53% market share in total exports. Other European countries like the Netherlands, Germany and Ireland follow behind. UK-based growers and marketers have traditionally played an active role in the country’s industry and longstanding trade agreements have made it so that most of its blueberries are destined for the UK, the report said.
The report also noted that negotiations are ongoing between the USDA and the South African Ministry of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development – showing promise for the eventual entry into the blueberry market for the U.S. In terms of production sites for South African blueberries, the effects of Covid-19 are anticipated to be very minimal as growers in the country took necessary precautions early on.