Andriy Yarmak says that the country’s production and exports could increase if enough labour is available to pick the crop

Ukraine’s blueberry producers enjoyed a “quite successful’ campaign in 2023, and the prospects for the future of the business are promising.

Andriy Yarmak

Andriy Yarmak

That was the verdict of Andriy Yarmak of fresh produce information and analysis provider EastFruit, which last year published an extensive study of the country’s blueberry industry.

“Ukraine exported a record volume of blueberries, and it was higher than we expected – 4,000 tonnes,” he told Fruitnet. “It was possible thanks to good weather and very high prices due to the lower harvest in Peru.”

In terms of export markets, around 27 per cent of fresh blueberries from Ukraine were exported to Poland, 20 per cent to the Netherlands, and 10 per cent to Germany, the UK and Georgia respectively, he outlined. More than 5 per cent were also exported to Moldova and Spain.

Looking ahead, Yarmak said that production data for the coming season could only be estimated as statistics did not yet exist for the Ukrainian crop.

“I would very roughly estimate local production to be close to 13,000-15,000 tonnes,” he predicted. “A large share of blueberry orchards are still young and thus, each year Ukraine is increasing production as plantations enter into full productivity.”

Recent frosts that hit the country, as well as Poland and Serbia, are thought to have only had minimal impact, EastFruit reported.

Blueberry production and exports had the potential to increase again in 2025, he said, although labour could be a barrier.

“The main problem is the lack of labour as many women left the country while a lot of men are busy helping the army resist Russian invasion,” Yarmak explained.

“Therefore, there are many uncertainties but if farmers manage to pick the crop, Ukraine could exceed last year’s export volumes once more.”