United Exports to invest $85M in Southern Africa
Australia-based United Exports, which hold the global licensing rights to the OZblu blueberries, says it plans to double its investment in Southern Africa, and in particular South Africa, over the next five years.
It said the move is part of its global expansion and is expected to create an additional 8,400 jobs across South Africa.
The announcement comes days after two containers of unlicensed OZblu fruit were confiscated in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam by the European Union Customs Authority.
Both containers of fruit were from Ross Berries (Pty) Ltd (‘Ross Berries’), part of the Rossouw Family of Companies. The first 10,300 kg container was confiscated on Oct. 27 and the second 16,600 kg container was confiscated on Nov. 5.
Ross Berries was previously licensed to produce the OZblu proprietary fruit under license held by a related company, Rosle Berries Ltd , United Exports said in a release.
"However, Rosle Berries terminated this license - and accordingly the entitlement of Ross Berries to produce OZblu proprietary fruit - in May 2020," it said.
"Western Cape grower Ross Berries, under Chris Rossouw, has persisted in its rejection of an offer by United Exports of an interim license that would legitimise its operations. Instead, Ross Berries stubbornly and incorrectly claims authority to grow, export and sell United Export’s OZblu proprietary fruit.
"This is fundamentally false and in complete violation of United Exports’ proprietary and intellectual property rights. United Exports has developed the relevant varieties and retains ownership of the Plant Breeder Rights in respect thereof in South Africa, in the European Union and elsewhere in the world."
United Exports added that it "respects and will continue to follow due process, and has brought proceedings in the European Union and will immediately launch proceedings in South Africa against Ross Berries to protect its intellectual property".