South African blueberry volumes set to rise by 30%

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South African blueberry volumes set to rise by 30%

South Africa is forecasting a 30% rise in its blueberry volumes this season to 1,700 metric tons (MT), of which 80% will be exported predominately to the U.K.

South African Berry Growers Association (SABP) chairman Trevor McKenzie, said despite recent rain he was expecting a high standard of fruit to be harvested.

"We are expecting a good crop. We are developing a good reputation for delivery of a good quality product."

He said South African growers would be supplying all the major U.K. supermarket chains via marketer and distributor Berry World.

Producers are concentrating on the earlier Floridan southern highbush varieties, which Argentina grows, because South Africa's climate is not cold enough to adopt northern highbush cultivars such as Blue Crop.

McKenzie said South Africa exports would start rising from this week onwards following the end of U.K. and Polish supply.

"It fits in quite nicely that we are coming in that the end of this season. We are targeting the pre-Christmas market with most of our production. It's a very attractive time of year to market."

South Africas's blueberry industry looks set to continue to grow over the next few years by about 25-30%.

"We will see an increase for the next few years as we have a lot of young plantings coming into bearing. The larger proportion of our plantings are not in full production."

McKenzie said more than half of South Africa's 400 hectares of blueberry orchards were made up of young trees.

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