Zimbabwe becomes a global leader in blueberry export growth
November 23, 2023

EastFruit analysts draw attention to an unexpected fact – currently the world leader in the growth rate of blueberry exports is a country that is better known for its record breaking hyperinflation rates and poverty. However, this country was once very rich and had a highly developed agriculture, so its potential should not be underestimated.

According to EastFruit, there is currently an investment boom in blueberry farming in Zimbabwe. New plantations are established mainly by investors from neighboring South Africa, who often diversify or even move production to this country due to very favorable climatic conditions, availability of high-quality water for irrigation and inexpensive labor. In addition, recently there has been an increase in investments from other countries into development of new blueberry plantations in Zimbabwe.

Read also: Global blueberry trade could decline for the first time in history!

Since blueberry production in Zimbabwe is developed mainly by investors who already have experience growing blueberries in similar climatic conditions, the productivity of the plantations and the quality of the products are quite high. Also, these companies already have established blueberry sales channels, which allows them to do the same with berries grown in Zimbabwe.

As a result, Zimbabwe’s blueberry exports are currently growing faster than any other country in the world. “On average over the past five years, Zimbabwe has increased blueberry exports by 63% each year or by 1,200 tones. In 2022, exports grew by 85% or 2.3 thousand tons and exceeded 5 thousand tons, which allowed the country to enter the top 15 countries in blueberry exports and overtake Serbia in volume,” says Andrij Yarmak, economist at the investment department of the Food and Agriculture Ministry. UN organizations (FAO).

EastFruit experts expect that in 2023, blueberry exports from Zimbabwe could grow by another 30-40% and reach 6.5-7.0 thousand tons. Considering the high price level for blueberries due to the poor harvest of this berry in Peru, the country can make good money from exporting blueberries in the new season.

Significant part of blueberries from Zimbabwe are exported to South Africa, apparently for further re-exports. The country also directly exports fresh blueberries to the UK, EU and Middle East countries, as well as to Russia.

By the way, Georgia is also among the leaders in the growth rate of blueberries in the world, with an average annual increase in exports of 50%. In 2023, blueberry exports from Georgia increased 2.5 times and reached 3.4 thousand tons. True, obviously, some of these blueberries were grown in Ukraine and re-exported by traders from Georgia to the Russian market.

Ukraine itself, despite its leading positions in the world in terms of the rate of blueberry area increase, is somewhat behind Georgia in terms of the growth rate of exports. However, in 2023, the blueberry exports from Ukraine increased sharply, which is partly due to a decrease in the local blueberry market size due to the outflow of population as a result of Russian military aggression.