South Africa’s berry industry body has decided to rebrand itself as BerriesZA after operating as the South African Berry Producers Association (SABPA) for some years.
“In recognition of the industry’s growing strength on the world stage, we have decided to relaunch the South African Berry Producers Association (SABPA) as BerriesZA," confirmed Justin Mudge, the group's chairperson.
The growth of the South African berry industry over the last five years is regarded as one of the country’s great agricultural success stories.
Its blueberry exports increased by more than 27 per cent last year, despite the impact of Covid-19. This meant an increase to 15,636 tonnes in 2021, compared with 12,221 tonnes the previous year and just 1,792 tonnes in 2015.
This growth has supported the rapid increase of employment in the industry, from just 1,000 workers in 2014 to more than 8,000 workers in 2019.
"We believe that this marks an important new chapter in the South African berry success story," Mudge commented. “Most importantly, BerriesZA has been mandated to become the enabling commodity organisation with a new mission to build the South African berry brand here at home and abroad."
Mudge said he believed the South African berry industry was poised to become a major force in the global market due to the superiority of the country’s fruit compared with berries from other countries.
“South African blueberries are globally renowned as some of the highest quality in the world. By 2024, we aim to have increased production to 62,000 tonnes and exports to 44,000 tonnes," he added.
"To achieve these goals, we will be focusing our efforts in the coming years on gaining access to new markets, primarily in the Far East, where demand for South African berries is high.”