BerryWorld has announced the start of this year’s South African blueberry season, with the first Mountain Blue Orchards (MBO) varieties set to arrive in the U.K. and Europe in August.
The company’s South African division is forecasting a total seasonal supply of more than 6,000 metric tons (MT) across the August to January window, representing year-on-year growth of more than 30%.
“This season is exciting for so many reasons. We are expanding our production, including some new territories,” said BerryWorld South Africa managing director Jason Richardson.
“We are expanding and developing our loyal customer base and we also continue to develop our IP and systems through dedicated R&D work. But nothing can be more exciting than supplying our customers with our MBO varietal offer.”
“With its superior size, crunch and flavour profile we are confident that blueberry consumers around the world will be suitably delighted during the 2018 season.”
The company highlighted that while each market is evolving at a different pace, blueberry sales are growing across the board and consumers everything are demanding better flavor, size and shelf life.
It pointed out that sales have nearly tripled in the U.K. over the last decade, driven both by new shoppers coming in and also through more regular visits and purchasing larger packs.
Those seasoned blueberry shoppers are also responsible for the growth of the premium offer, showing how some of the UK’s 13.5m blueberry shoppers are becoming increasingly discerning, the company said.
“Even in these mature markets, there are still opportunities to drive penetration,” said category manager Chloe Butler.
“Kantar data for the UK shows that in the 12w/e 31st December 2017, market penetration on blueberries was 22.1% compared to a summer average of 36% for the May to July 2018 window.”
The varieties bred by Australia-based MBO give BerryWorld “the opportunity to bridge the typical gap between end of Polish and UK, bringing South African supply into Europe as early as possible,” the company added.
Mountain Blue Orchards
At the close of 2014, BerryWorld secured exclusive growing rights to the MBO program for Europe and Africa and exclusive selling rights of that production.
“There are lots of new exciting varieties coming through, some of which have already been awarded Superior taste awards by the iTQi – this varietal offer will give us an ongoing offer of great flavour profiles and texture characteristics, firm berries with a wonderful pop – a great balance between sweet and more acidic berries to meet the needs of every nation’s palette and step change the blueberry offer,” said chief commercial officer Adrian Olins.
“We have also found that blueberries from the programme consistently outperform on size, surpassing benchmarks set in the current world records.”
BerryWorld says it has “very significant” MBO plantings and volumes available from Northern Hemisphere territories such as Morocco, Spain and Portugal to ensure a 52-week supply of these.
A year-round offer, combined with our marketing expertise, allows our business to meet the needs of retail markets across the globe.