The blueberry market is recovering in southern Africa

As global consumption of this small berry has increased in recent years, South African farmers may benefit from a slowdown in production in Peru, the world leader in blueberry exports.

After two painful years, in which prices were too low for South African producers to remain competitive, the 2023-2024 season looks to be quite good in the country. This season follows the same pace as Peru, starting around June, when the northern hemisphere ends its season. However, Lima has experienced difficulties this year, due to a warm winter caused by the El Niño phenomenon.

«Market demand has driven up prices«explains Brent Walsh, general director of Berries ZA, the organization that represents the soft fruit sector in South Africa. “So, from a purely monetary point of view, it is a positive season "He concludes.

Pretoria remains a very modest producer compared to the Peruvian giant, having produced 30.000 tonnes of blueberries last year. But since 2017, the sector has been expanding and most of the fruit is exported to the European Union and the United Kingdom.

South African market faces challenges

However, the country is far from fully benefiting from the market situation as it faces its own challenges. First of all, the weather has been very humid; But it is above all the problems related to the obstruction of ports, particularly Durban, that continue to hinder maritime exports, pushing companies to resort to air transport. Not to mention the loss of charge, which increases the costs of preserving blueberries.

The country is also experiencing a slowdown in the development of its crops, as is the case in neighboring Zimbabwe. There, favorable weather conditions around Harare attract investors, many from South Africa, and keep production moving rapidly. But the economic and monetary crisis makes access to financing difficult, which could block the development of the sector.

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