Behold the berry boom

The global demand for berries has surged ahead in recent years.

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The global demand for berries has surged ahead in recent years due to growing interest in nutrition and the importance of healthy eating.

The major markets are the US and UK, where retail sales of berries increased by roughly 43% over the past five years. At the same time, table grape sales increased by only 10%, while apples, citrus and tropical fruit sales fell by 3% to 9%.

So said Dr David Hughes, professor at the Imperial College in London, who was one of the speakers at the Global Table Grape Congress 2011 held in Somerset West earlier this year.

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He added that berry sales have been underpinned by the strong positive image of berries in consumers’ minds.

In response to the global berry boom, South Africa’s berry farmers have established a new organisation, the South African Berry Producers Association. According to the association’s chairperson, Trevor McKenzie, SABPA aims to play a major role in growing and developing the local berry industry.

SABPA also wants to promote South Africa’s reputation as a top berry producer and to increase the demand for this highvalue fruit locally and internationally.

According to reports, McKenzie said there has been a marked increase in the demand and subsequent export of blueberries and raspberries, in particular from South Africa to Europe and the UK.

Exports have increased from a few hundred tons to an estimated 1 000t of both blueberries and raspberries in 2011. – Denene Erasmus