Australian blueberry company to up its investment in SA despite IP rights battle
Cape Town - Despite being involved in a row over intellectual property rights concerning a particular blueberry variety, an Australian company, United Exports Group, has pledged to double its investment in South Africa.
Company founder Roger Horak said that while enforcing its rights against Ross Berries (Pty), one of the largest blueberry growers in the Western Cape, over the export of blueberries to Europe, “United Exports will invest R1.3 billion in the South African agricultural economy as part of its global expansion over the next five years. This is expected to create an additional 8 400 new jobs across the country, particularly in rural areas.”
The announcement comes just days after two containers of the controversial OZblu blueberries from Ross Berries, part of the Rossouw Farming Group, were confiscated in Rotterdam by the EU customs authority.
Horak said: “Ross Berries was previously licensed to produce the OZblu proprietary fruit under licence held by a related company, Rosle Berries. However, Rosle Berries terminated this licence and accordingly the entitlement of Ross Berries to produce OZblu proprietary fruit, in May 2020.
“Late on November 6, Rosle Berries agreed a new licence arrangement with United Exports for itself only, leaving its related company, Ross Berries, unlicensed. Ross Berries has persisted in its rejection of an offer by United Exports of an interim licence that would legitimise its operations, and incorrectly claims authority to grow, export and sell United Export’s OZblu proprietary fruit.”