Agronometrics in Charts: The growing Republic of Georgia's blueberry sector

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Agronometrics in Charts: The growing Republic of Georgia's blueberry sector

In this installment of the ‘Agronometrics In Charts’ series, Agronometrics examines the growth of the blueberry industry in the Republic of Georgia. Each week, the series focuses on a different horticultural commodity, highlighting a specific origin or topic and visualizing the market factors that drive change.

Georgia's blueberry industry may be relatively young, with roots stretching back only 18 years, but it's rapidly making its mark on the global stage. Spanning across key regions like Samegrelo, Guria, Adjara, and Imereti, blueberry cultivation has seen exponential growth thanks to initiatives like the state-led "Plant the Future" program, which saw more than 2,100 hectares of orchards planted with drip irrigation systems since 2015.

The country's blueberry production has skyrocketed, leaping from 110 hectares in 2018 to an impressive 3,000 hectares or more, according to the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture’s Rural Development Agency (RDA) and other industry stakeholders. The favorable climate and mountainous terrain allow for the cultivation of southern highbush varieties, with tunnel production extending the season from May to August, though peak harvest months are June and July. Notably, there are higher prices for Georgian blueberries both early and late in the season, providing incentives for cultivating techniques that extend the harvest period.

 Georgia Fresh Export Price History | Cultivated Conventional

Most farms in Georgia are small-scale, but there's a notable presence of larger farms, with about 40 farmers managing over 20 hectares of blueberry orchards. According to Shako Tsintsadze, Grower Support Georgia for Fall Creek Nursery, Georgia harvested 3,500 tons of blueberries in 2023. He believes that the forecast for 2024 will be around 5,000 to 6,000 tons.

 Georgia Fresh Export Volume By Partner | Cultivated Conventional

Georgian blueberries are gaining attention globally, attracting investments from entities in the UAE and India. Additionally, the presence of renowned blueberry breeders and nurseries from the U.S. underscores the industry's potential. Access to water and acidic soil, reminiscent of the country's historic tea production, further bolsters Georgia's advantage in blueberry cultivation.

When it comes to exports, Georgia holds a unique position. With the harvest season commencing in late May, Georgian blueberries fill a crucial gap in the market, offering high-quality produce when northern hemisphere supply dwindles and large volume from the southern hemisphere has yet to arrive. While Russia remains the dominant export destination, efforts to diversify markets are underway, albeit with challenges.

 Georgia Fresh Export Volume By Partner | Cultivated Conventional

After a successful export season to Europe in 2023, a memorandum of understanding was established between the Georgian Blueberry Growers Association (GBGA) and a prominent German purchaser, outlining plans to export 800 tons of fresh blueberries by 2025.

Georgia Fresh Export Volume By Partner | Cultivated Conventional

Infrastructure limitations and certification requirements hinder expansion, but initiatives like training sessions on post-harvest handling and certifications like Global Gap are steps toward overcoming these obstacles, as reported by Tornike Panjavidze, head of the Association of Blueberry Producers. 

Georgia could leverage the strategic window of its harvest period to expand its exports to existing partners not only in Europe but also to other countries such as the UAE. Shako Tsintsadze from Fall Creek mentions that Georgia benefits from direct flights to the Emirates, which can significantly reduce shipping time.

UAE Fresh Import Volume By Partner | Cultivated Conventional

Despite facing hurdles, Georgia's blueberry industry is resilient and forward-thinking. By modernizing post-harvest processes, diversifying export destinations, and ensuring product quality and safety, the sector is poised for sustained growth and increased global prominence. With opportunities emerging in Europe, the UAE, and beyond, Georgia's blueberry industry is primed to capitalize on its strengths and carve out a significant niche in the global market.

In our ‘In Charts’ series, we work to tell some of the stories that are moving the industry. Feel free to take a look at the other articles by clicking here.

All pricing for domestic US produce represents the spot market at Shipping Point (i.e. packing house/climate controlled warehouse, etc.). For imported fruit, the pricing data represents the spot market at Port of Entry.

You can keep track of the markets daily through Agronometrics, a data visualization tool built to help the industry make sense of the huge amounts of data that professionals need to access to make informed decisions. If you found the information and the charts from this article useful, feel free to visit us at where you can easily access these same graphs, or explore the other 21 commodities we currently track.

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