Despite the COVID-19 scare, the South African Berry Producers Association (SABPA) expects blueberry production to reach 25 000 tons for the 2020/2021.
“Earlier this month we announced a new record in blueberry exports with 12 282 tons exported in 2019/20. Read together with the production figures, the data shows that exports account for 68% of the industry’s production” said Chairperson of SABPA. Justin Mudge.
SABPA was established in 2011, with all intentions and purposes of positioning berries in South Africa within the wider market included but not limited to transformation, chemical registration and promoting export standards.
According to Mudge, SABPA was pleases that the blueberry production for 2019/2020 increased to 18 000 ton from 11 700 in the previous year.
“This impressive growth in production of 53% is testament to the growing investment in, and demand for, South African blueberries” he said.
Blueberries are commercially grown in North America and Europe, possessing low calories, with potential effects of regulating blood sugar levels and aiding heart and brain health.
Often marketed as a superfood, blueberries belong to the heather family (Vaccinium ssp.) also known for providing vitamins and antioxidants.
The local berry industry in South Africa was still small compared to other local fruit industries such as table grapes and apples.
According to SABPA, on average, total exports of blueberry were approximately 13 500 tons compared to over 200 000 tons for table grapes and about 300 000 tons for apples per year respectively.
Major exports destinations of SA blueberries were the United Kingdom (46,2%), Europe (46,10%), Middle East (2,57%), Far East (4,9%).
“The South African Berry Producers Association and its members remain firm in our commitment to South Africa and to our workforce. We will continue to strive to achieve growth every season, maintaining and creating new jobs in these trying time” added Mudge.
Blueberries in South Africa are normally available in variety of baked goods, jams, powder, jellies and other flavourings.