A newly formed alliance between Fruit South Africa and Mzansi’s berry industry is set to dramatically increase exports to China and a host of other countries over the next decade.
This follows an announcement that the South African Berry Producers’ Association (SABPA) is now represented by leading fruit body organisation Fruit SA. Insiders say the decision came as a slight surprise after SAPBA ended their relationship with the deciduous fruit industry body, Hortgro, in 2011 establish a new producer organisation.
‘Market access can’t be achieved in isolation’
However, SABPA’s operational manager, Elzette Schutte, tells Food For Mzansi that their latest move will benefit the berry industry a great deal. She describes the Fruit SA agreement as an “important step” that will yield great results.
“This is where high-level decisions are being made by industry stakeholders, so it is important that the blueberry industry is represented here,” she says.
Schutte adds that market access remains a top priority for SAPBA, and the association accepts that it cannot be achieved in isolation.
“Industries work together to achieve this. Fruit SA plays a vital role in this process and therefore we want to be part of their platform.”
To a great degree, through impressive blueberry exports, the industry has already made great strides in global markets.
Schutte says blueberries have the potential to be an even more valuable agricultural product for South Africa in the future. “To position ourselves correctly for this, we want to represent our industry on all the levels needed.”
According fruitnet.com, blueberry exports reached 14 063 tonnes towards the end of week 49 in 2020. This is compared to the 11 703 tonnes marketed abroad at the same time in the previous year.
In the next decade, Mzansi is expected to see a steep rise in berry exports, particularly for blueberries. However, the country still needs to secure as many markets as possible to see a steep rise.
Alliance with extra benefits
Furthermore, the recent signing of a memorandum of understanding between Fruit SA and the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Foodstuffs and Native Produce (CCCFNA), could prove extremely advantageous for the berry industry.
Up until now, the industry has had no luck exporting its berries to China, where there is a growing interest for the product.
Meanwhile, Fruit SA chairman Justin Chadwick told fruitnet.com that he welcomed the Fruit SA and SAPBA partnership.
“This is a welcome development as Fruit South Africa has the ambition of representing as many fruit industries as possible.”