South African blueberry exporters expected to reach their goal
May 14, 2024

North South Africa's blueberry season has started and industry growers anticipate a growth in exports of 10%.

Blueberry shipments are expected to be underway within four weeks but major exports will only happen after the harvest of the Western Cape ramps in the second half of the year.

The country is expected to hit its 25,000 tonnes mark this year.

The Western Cape Province is the leading blueberry-producing area in South Africa. The region accounts for over 60% of the fruit production, followed by Limpopo and the North West.

After last year's prolonged wet winter and delayed harvest, particularly in the Western Cape, and shortages of production in the Northern cape, the South African blueberry industry is looking for a comeback.

Last season, producers expected to reach 25,000 tonnes in exports and only exported over 22,000 tonnes of blueberries. Brent Walsh, CEO of Berries ZA,pinned the decrease to "difficult conditions during the harvest, which slowed down picking and packing."

He's expecting that the process with India will be finalized relatively soon, after protocol agreements are settled. The plan is that the new trade relationship will open the path for other countries like China.

He also added that the company is focusing on introducing new varieties. “Our long-term forecast is still for considerable growth, and that is why we are keen to get access to the consumer markets of the East, and India is one example,” he said.

According to SABPA data, the country is making inroads in the blueberry market but mainly targets exports rather than local consumption of the fruit. South Africa's production has seen an increase of 39% per year since 2008 and exports peak in October and November.