A Netherlands based horticultural PUM expert, Mr Peter de Wit, who was recently in Zimbabwe, said the Blueberry industry is poised for growth given the growing market and consumer preferences in Europe.
“With higher prices and greater demand in export markets, blueberries, among other soft fruits, will continue to have a growing demand”, he said.
Blueberries are a popular fruit, easily added to cereals, salads and desserts or eaten as a sweet treat in their own right. They are sometimes known by some as a ‘super food’ or ‘super fruit’ as a result of health benefits.
These include antioxidant properties, high potassium content and a good source of fibre. Studies have shown that blueberries have the ability to fight diseases such as cancer and heart diseases.
The expert expressed that products that earn substantial price premiums are emerging in the fresh fruit and veggies sector and consumers in Europe are willing to pay more for new flavours or health and wellness attributes.
According to Mr Mike Player, the managing director of Total Berry, a division of Importer Total Produce UK, a leading distributor of fruits and vegetables, “during January 2015, the household penetration for blueberries in the UK was 18,7 percent compared to the penetration for strawberries, which stood at 14,4 percent”.
This shows the growing popularity of blueberries as a health alternative.
The global value of imported blueberries in 2015 stood at $1,99 billion with US, United Kingdom and Canada being the top importers.
In Africa, the top producers and exporters of blueberries are Morocco and South Africa, but the two only account for 4,9 percent of the world market share.
ZimTrade is urging farmers and horticulture companies to grow alternative high value fruit and vegetables such as blueberries, mangetout, sugar snap and onions, among others. Farmers can utilise the Zimbabwe-European Union Business Information Centre (Zim-EBIC) to obtain valuable information on market trends and market entry technical requirements.
The Zim-EBIC facility provides access to the EU Help Desk, an online portal for technical requirements, potential buyers, import requirements, tariff as well as non-tariff requirements on the EU market. Additionally, Zimbabwe is a signatory to the interim Economic Partnership Agreement that confers duty free quota free access to the EU market to qualifying products such as locally grown blueberries.