January 4, 2024

South Africa Filling the Gap in Global Blueberry Supply


The global blueberry market is undergoing significant changes, with South Africa emerging as a key player, especially in light of recent challenges faced by Peru, traditionally the leading supplier during this period.

Peru has long dominated the blueberry supply to the UK’s soft fruit industry. However, the country has experienced a substantial decline in exports, dropping by 40-60% due to poor weather conditions during the growing and harvesting seasons. This downturn has created an opportunity for South Africa to establish a stronger presence in the market. Ben Goodchild from Nationwide Produce highlights that South African blueberries are now competitively priced, matching those from Peru, due to high demand and short supply.

Goodchild also notes the potential for South African blueberries to become a viable option for UK buyers, contingent on resolving port issues in South Africa. The question remains whether Peru will regain its dominant position next season, or if South Africa will maintain its new found momentum and retain its expanded customer base.

The variety of blueberries also differs between the two countries. Peru is known for its well-established varieties and plants, while South Africa is introducing newer varieties with great flavour.
Additionally, the South African berry industry has recently celebrated the opening of a new market for its blueberries in North America, particularly Canada. BerriesZA announced this development, expressing excitement over the new opportunity. Although Canada is a distant market for South African fruit, requiring expensive air freight and time-consuming shipping, it presents another avenue for blueberry growers. All production regions in South Africa stand to benefit from this access.

New Markets

The Canadian market will initially involve a trial importation period, with 100% inspection of South African blueberries upon arrival. This phase aims to ensure that the fruits consistently meet Canada’s stringent phytosanitary import requirements, with periodic reviews conducted by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency throughout the shipping season. South Africa is stepping up as a significant supplier in the global blueberry market, filling gaps caused by Peru’s recent production challenges and exploring new markets like Canada. This shift reflects the dynamic nature of international produce trade and the opportunities for emerging players in the industry.