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Sa Fruit Journal June July 2021 Blueberry Exports Main
June / July 2021

Cold Treatment: Improving Blueberry Exports

SA Fruit Journal: June / July 2021

A phytosanitary breakthrough that eliminates fruit flies can give South African blueberry producers access to markets in the East. This development will sustain the local industry’s growth and boost rural economies and employment.

The world is going mad over blueberries. According to Berries ZA, SA exported 15 800 tonnes of blueberries in the 2020/21 season (up 30% from the previous season’s 12 282 tonnes). This set a new industry record.

Global demand for blueberries, fuelled by the fruit’s well-marketed health properties, has grown by 12% annually since 2013, according to the International Trade Centre. Packed with antioxidants purported to help prevent cancer, diabetes, heart disease and other ailments, blueberries’ popularity is expected to continue.

Almost 70% of SA’s blueberries are destined for export markets. The UK imported about 46% of our local production last year, with the rest of Europe accounting for another 46%.

The popularity of locally grown blueberries is due to great varieties and high quality fruit, and the fact that SA is closer to Europe and the UK than our main competitors, namely, Peru and Chile. In addition, SA’s blueberry production coincides with the off-season in the export market (which guarantees demand).

Less than 5% of South African blueberries currently goes to markets in the Far East, and producers do not yet have access to the Chinese market. A recently completed study into cold treatment against fruit flies will hopefully change this.

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