Blueberry production creates 14 000 jobs
Data compiled by the South African Berry Producers Association (SABPA) reveals that South Africa’s blueberry production is expected to reach a record high of 17 000 tons this year, up from 11 300 tons in 2018.
This will mean an exponential increase in jobs created from 1 000 in 2014 to 8 000 in 2019. Furthermore, by 2023, we expect production to reach 50 000 tons which will translate into 14 000 jobs.
At present, approximately 70 percent of blueberries produced locally are destined for export markets. The value of blueberry exports grew from R133 million in 2013 to R1.058 billion in 2018.
Currently, South Africa does not have access to key markets like China and South Korea at a time when blueberry imports are growing phenomenally in these markets.
In China, for example, blueberry imports grew from 2 400 tons in 2013 to more than 12 000 tons by 2017.
At the moment, China imports its berries mainly from Chile and Peru. South Africa should be competing directly with these countries, especially because we grow high-quality blueberry varieties that are preferred by the international markets.
Given access to these markets, South African blueberries will be a formidable competitor in future!
Report on the economic contribution of the South African blueberry production industry
In a recent industry report by the Western Cape Department of Agriculture in collaboration with the South African Berry Producers’ Association (SABPA) it was found that the local blueberry industry is not only one of the fastest-growing horticultural industries in South Africa, but also a profitable business venture set to continue its exponential growth and in the process creating thousands of much-needed jobs in rural areas.
The South African blueberry industry is one of the fastest-growing horticultural industries in South Africa, both in terms of hectares planted and gross value of production. In line with several policy documents that suggest that high-value, labour-intensive and exported crops should be targeted for growth, this industry is particularly well-positioned to drive inclusive development and has created more than 4 000 jobs in the past five years. In this report, the economic contribution of the blueberry industry was estimated and shows that for every hectare under production, blueberry growers employ an average of 2.64 workers on farms, whilst another 0.22 jobs per hectare are created for those packing the fruits and those supervising or managing teams. In terms of generating export earnings, the industry has managed to grow its export base from 634 tons in 2008 to more than 8 000 tons in 2018. In value terms, this translates into exports to the world growing from R133 million in 2013 to R1.058 billion in 2018; an annual growth rate of 51% in this period.
Blueberries are not only very profitable from an investment point of view, but it also contributes to the economy through its linkages with upstream and downstream industries. In 2018, inputs used by the industry was valued at R570 million, whilst direct investment in newly established orchards in the past year adding another R421 million in the form of direct investment. With increasing world demand for this “superfruit” which is high in anti-oxidants, the growth of South Africa’s berry industry is set to also boost job creation and growth for input sectors.
Since around 70% of all blueberries grown in South Africa get exported, the industry’s future growth is dependent on having access to markets, in particular China and South Korea. Despite the limited access to these two markets compared to the industry’s major Southern Hemisphere competitors such as Peru and Chile, the South African blueberry industry has managed to diversify its export market basket of countries with increases in the number of destinations over time, whilst a smaller share of the total exports have gone to the United Kingdom, whilst still growing in absolute terms. The findings in this report suggest that the berry industry, and particularly blueberries as the leader, should be prioritised for market access to further extend its economic and socio-economic contribution to the South African economy.
A copy of the full report can be downloaded HERE
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Source: Business Day / SABPA