Due to continued investment into South African orchards, local OZblu blueberry volumes are expected to grow by 150% this year, which is good news for South Africa’s agricultural export market and depressed job market.
Roger Horak, global CEO of OZblu blueberries says that this additional volume is welcomed as global demand remains strong, and that it will assist in meeting export demand. “At least 80% of South African blueberry production is exported and more than half of our supply goes to the United Kingdom, while Europe, the Middle East and the Far East (Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia) are also significant export regions. The demand for blueberries in these regions is on the rise due to the growing popularity of health foods and the mounting evidence behind the nutritional benefits of blueberries.”
Although the planned upsurge in blueberry supply predicted for the year ahead is immense, Horak stresses that a sustainable approach to growing should still be strictly adhered to by farmers. “The high quality of our local product is what drives demand among global audiences. To ensure that South Africa remains a top exporter and continues to meet global expectations, strict processes need to be followed when producing blueberries. The extremely fragile nature of blueberries means that they cannot be mass-produced but should rather be grown outside in a sustainable, dynamic, biological environment.”
He encourages the industry to ensure that sustainable farming practices are also followed as it will help grow the agricultural sector, which is a key driver of economic growth in South Africa. “In December 2017, Statistics South Africa reported that the agricultural sector was the main contributor to the rise in South Africa’s GDP in 2017, surging 14.9% quarter on quarter – the biggest quarterly growth for the sector in 21 years. Growth like this is what we want for the industry and sustainable farming methods pave the way for this growth.
“With growth comes the rewards of increased GDP and its associated benefits and further employment opportunities. Furthermore, by investing in non-traditional berry growing areas, the industry is actively creating new employment opportunities. Farmers continue to play an active role in the upliftment of these communities through the empowerment of the individuals through job opportunities and associated training,” says Horak. – Press release