CAPE TOWN – South African blueberry producers plan to tap new markets. Strong global growth – with market share having increased from just 0.19 percent in 2008 – to 1.1 percent in 2016, has seen South Africa initiating substantial investment into blueberry production.
The blueberry world market has experienced significant growth in recent years, expanding from R8.8 billion in 2011 to R33.7bn in 2016, translating into annual average growth of more than 30 percent. All indications are that the global market is still growing to meet the demand that is still much higher than supply.
Economic Opportunities MEC Alan Winde said this was a growing market and coupled with the fact that blueberries were a labour-intensive crop, the ability to create 2.96 jobs per hectare meant that there was real potential for the Western Cape to grow its blueberry exports, expand the province's economy and create new jobs in the agricultural sector.
“We've seen exceptional growth in a number of our berry crops, and this is one of the reasons the Department of Agriculture has been investing in the alternative crops research fund, which is aimed at boosting crops such as berries, cherries and pomegranates as they are water-wise and highly labour-intensive,” said Winde.
According to data from Hortgro and the South African Berry Association, 68 percent of all South Africa's berries are grown in the Western Cape.