South Africa boasts a thriving fruit market with a healthy local demand and enough supply to meet not only local demand but also to export significant volumes to international markets. While many fruits have tapped into local and international demand, the blueberry sector is still seeing significant growth as consumer preferences for the super fruit grows with each passing season. Individual fruit quality will be the biggest factor driving consumer choice, with return purchases most often based on the size, crunch and firmness of each blueberry.
A lot of emphasis has been placed on blueberries with market indicators showing a year-on-year increase in demand. This is backed by research showing that blueberry consumption has reached 650 000 tonnes annually and is set to double to 1.5 million tonnes within the next five years.
Capturing this opportunity, producers of OZblu® blueberries, United Exports, have focused on producing the highest quality fruit by growing their very specific OZblu® series of varieties. Blueberries have seen a massive increase in popularity among consumer, with fruit quality being a key factor in a purchasing decision. Accounting for this, they have implemented a sustainable breeding programme and a precise production, harvesting and post-harvest logistics to protect the fruit along their supply-chain. This allows them to supply fruit near year-round, even months when blueberries are non-seasonal in South Africa like February through April.
“Blueberries will always be a competitive market in South Africa and internationally. For any producer to succeed in the blueberry market, focus should be placed on mitigating decay and bruising,” says Roger Horak, executive chairman and founder of United Exports. “Eating a soft, spoiled blueberry will deter consumers, ruling out chances of a return purchase, especially with a variety of other brands on the shelf.”
“We have focused on producing a blueberry that has a longer shelf life, meaning that, as a retailer, you can keep them on your shelves for extended periods of time,” says Horak. “In addition, we have invested extensively in research and development (R&D) to guide our yielding process, to ensure our blueberries retain their superior, crunchy sweetness and full-bodied flavour at home.”
Another factor determining market growth is the seasonality of the fruit. “Our blueberries are grown best in low chill environments and therefore make use of a number of different farming locations around the globe, including South Africa where some of our biggest farms are located. This allows United Exports to produce consistent quality blueberries all year round. The ability to produce identical fruit year-round is important so that we can support retailers with reliable supply and sales consistency through customers returning for high-quality fruit.”
Through extensive R&D, OZblu® has been able to provide blueberries that outcompete competitors. This has been proven through blind taste tests where our product is yet to be beaten on taste, size and crunch.
The blueberry industry as one of the fastest growing horticultural industries, with agricultural land allocated towards blueberry farming increasing by 30% on an annual basis over the past nine years1. This sector’s growth has been responsible for 5,000 full-time jobs and a significant economic contribution through the local market and exports.
ABOUT OZBLU® – BECAUSE NOT ALL BLUEBERRIES ARE CREATED EQUAL!
OZblu® blueberries – a leading producer of new blueberry varieties – prides itself on producing a range of blueberries that are bigger, sweeter, crunchier and juicer than the older traditional varieties, through a unique and sustainable breeding programm
Since its first commercial planting in 2013, OZblu® has made a significant investment in global blueberry production. Focusing on high-level, ethical, technical and sustainable production, while taking advantage of the different climates and rainfall seasons across the globe, OZblu® is able to produce consistent, high-quality blueberry varieties year-round for our delighted consumers.
The healthy life is definitely one worth living, and OZblu® blueberries will make staying healthy a breeze. Follow us at: www.ozblu.com
ABOUT UNITED EXPORTS
Established by Roger Horak in 2003, United Exports is an international company specialising in the licensing and sub-licensing of leading fruit genetics. As a vertically integrated business, the core business units are varietal breeding, fruit production, packing and export/import services.Find out more at www.united-exports.com
ABOUT NATURE SELECT
Dave and Leasa Mazzardis established their Nature Select breeding program with aim of producing superior blueberry genetics that are commercially viable for growers, with the focus of making their blueberries the number one choice for consumer consumption globally. While their breeding programme’s genetics are now grown commercially in over 19 countries, they are continuing to develop and further their varieties and market them under the OZblu® brand.
- South African Blueberry Industry Continues Strong Growth (2020 Report): Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN)
- FreshPlaza (2021) https://www.freshplaza.com/article/9378542/blueberry-industry-is-the-fastest-growing-horticultural-industry-in-south-africa/