- Berry farming is labour intensive.
- As berries are sold as fresh produce, the post harvest process from the field to the customer plays a vital role.
- It is largely an export crop, so other challenges include the cost of freight and competition from South America.
- There are two reasons why South Africa is well-placed to tap into the Northern Hemisphere markets: (i) we have a range of climates suitable for berry-growing; (ii) we have a strategic advantage in the fact that we are out of season.
- Berries are consumed as fruit, and also used as products for juice, jam, yoghurt, preserves and liqueur.
International business environment
Find the FRESHPLAZA June 2018 Overview of the Global Strawberry Market.
Most strawberry cultivars grow well under cool climatic conditions. However, temperatures below -0.5°C can cause severe damage to full blooms.
Temperatures in European countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium, the UK and Germany are below freezing point for a prolonged period of time during winter. Spain and Italy also have very cold winters. Farmers in these countries have adopted various methods of “forced cultivation” for off-season strawberry production to take advantage of the high market prices during winter. In Holland and Belgium strawberries are grown in glasshouses throughout winter, using bags and pots filled with a peat-based substrate. Strawberries are also grown under polyethylene tunnels in Spain, Italy, France, U.K. and Germany.
Back in September 2013, the International TradeProbe (47) looked at the trade of strawberries. The information above was included in that review. Find the TradeProbes at www.namc.co.za.
- International Blueberry Organisation, www.internationalblueberry.org
- www.driscolls.com – “Only the finest berries”
- http://noursefarms.com – “The Best Berry Plants since 1932”
- www.pickyourown.org – where you can find a pick-your-own farm near you (USA website)
- www.raspberries.us – an extensive source of information on raspberries
The Fresh Produce Exporters Forum (FPEF) in its Fresh Fruit Export Directory includes pomegranates along with blueberries and raspberries under the category “Exotic fruit”. Although there are references to pomegranate role players, mostly our chapter deals with berries. Readers are directed to the Pomegranate Association of South Africa (POMASA) (details under heading 5) and its website www.sapomegranate.co.za for information on pomegranates.
South Africa: imports and exports
- Blueberries are exported mostly to the UK (60%), Europe (30%), Africa (6%) and Asia (3%) (SABPA, 2017). Some three-quarters of South Africa’s blueberries are exported.
- Pomegranates are exported to Europe and Russia (61%), UK (11%), Middle East (11%), Far East and Asia (7%) and Africa (7%) (FPEF, 2016).
Find information about berry exports in the FPEF’s latest Export Directory (see heading 6): the above figures come from the 2016 edition. Also, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF)’s “Abstract of Agricultural Statistics” has a category “strawberries and other berries”; statistics relating to production, gross value, sales on markets and purchases for processing will be found here. Find DAFF publications under the “Resource Centre” menu option on www.daff.gov.za.
Local business environment
- Handling requirements for berries differ and there is no way one set of handling requirements can be given. Suffice it to say that they are very delicate fruits and must be handled with the utmost care. Prompt cooling after picking is important. The cold chain must be strictly applied, because any temperature variation will result in condensation of moisture on the fruit with subsequent increase in decay.
- Both the local and export marketing of fruit are free from government intervention. The exporting of fruit is subject to compliance with certain quality requirements and obtaining a PPECB (Perishable Products Export Control Board) export certificate.
Historically, most berry exports go to the United Kingdom and Europe.
The Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) flagged blue berries (along with macadamias and pecan nuts) back in 2011 as “high-growth labour intensive industries”. Growth since them has been “phenomenal”.
The executive summary of the BFAP BASELINE Agricultural Outlook 2017-2026 includes blue berries in the category “highly capital intensive and export orientated commodities”. Growth in these industries is expected to continue, dependent on the investment climate remaining positive. Find the latest Baseline at www.bfap.co.za.
National strategy and government contact
Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries www.daff.gov.za
- Directorate: Plant Health Tel: 012 319 6091 KgaboMa [at] daff.gov.za
- Directorate: Food Safety and Quality Assurance Tel: 012 319 6231 / 018 / 023
- Directorate: International Trade Tel: 012 319 8452 DITR [at] daff.gov.za
The Western Cape Department of Agriculture has the Alternative Crops Fund (ACF) – R3 million per annum – to boost exports and bolster land reform. Alternative, smaller crops include berries and pomegranates. These crops have high market value and are export-orientated. Alternative crops are mostly water smart and would therefore be preferred crops against the current, and most probable, dryer and even continued drought conditions in the Western Cape and the rest of South Africa. Promoting alternative crops is also one of the proposed actions of the SmartAgri plan. See www.elsenburg.com.
Associations and statutory bodies
- Pomegranate Association of South Africa (POMASA) Tel: 021 870 2900 www.sapomegranate.co.za
- South African Berry Producers Association c/o HORTGRO Tel: 021 870 2900 www.hortgro.co.za
- The Perishable Products Export Control Board (PPECB) is the official certification agency that ensures quality in the supply chain. Call 021 930 1134 or visit www.ppecb.com
- South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) Tel: 012 428 7911 www.sabs.co.za
- Amathole Economic Development Agency Tel: 043 721 2070 www.aspire.org.za
- Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) Tel: 011 269 3000 www.idc.co.za
Companies and growers
- Agrifusion johannes [at] agrifusion.co.za www.agrifusion.co.za exotic fruit expert
- Alternafruit Tel: 021 872 8463 www.alternafruit.co.za
- Amathole Berries (Pty) Ltd Tel: 043 782 0610 www.amatholeberries.co.za
- Berrynice Berry Company Tel: 087 550 1184 www.berrynice.co.za
- Berryworld SA Tel: 021 808 6641 www.berryworld.com
- Blue Mountain Berries (BMB) Tel: 044 876 0131 Read the article “A berry good investment for South Africa”
- Blueberry Heights Tel: 083 880 8787 http://blueberryheights.co.za
- Bon-Af Berry Farm Tel: 056 811 3966 http://berry-farm.co.za
- BronPro Tel: 071 659 3642 http://bronpro.co.za
- Cappeny Estates Tel: 032 815 1168 www.cappenyestates.com Strawberry grower
- Corefruit Tel: 021 863 6300 www.corefruit.com Pomegranate exporter
- Creation Fruit Tel: 028 314 0035 Pomegranate exporter
- DaisyFresh Hydroponics Tel: 031 767 2096 / 083 400 0033 http://hydroponicssouthafrica.co.za
- Denbi Tel: 058 303 2149 www.denbi.com
- DKI Fruit Marketing Tel: 021 855 4888 http://dkifruit.co.za
- Dole SA Tel: 021 914 0600 http://dolesa.co.za
- Dreammaker Fruits Tel: 022 931 8500 jeankotze [at] dreammaker.co.za www.winterwood.co.uk Blueberries and raspberries are grown on South African farms for this UK-based company.
- Eurafruit SA (Pty) Limited Trevor McKenzie: Director Tel: 021 808 6640/1 A solid base of South African growers has been built up for export to the UK, with Eurafruit providing the necessary technical back up as well as the marketing of all fruit and co-ordinating the sales logistics.
- Euroberry Tel: 0860 400 407 www.euroberry.co.za
- Favourite Fresh Export Tel: 021 880 6626 www.ffesa.co.za
- Franschhoek Marketing 021 876 3141 www.freshnessfirst.co.za
- Freshgold SA Exports 021 555 1966 www.freshgoldsa.co.za
- Freshworld Tel: 021 808 7100 www.freshworld.co.za Exporter
- Fyvie Farming Tel: 058 622 2953 http://fyviefarming.co.za
- Goldee Trading 2 011 848 9950
- Haygrove Heaven Tel: 021 859 1026 www.haygrove.co.za
- Mooiberge Farm Tel: 021 881 3222
- Mountain Breeze Farm Tel: 021 880 1700
- New Vision Fruit Tel: 021 970 5120 www.karsten.co.za
- Orchard Management Systems www.orchman.com Berry technical and management consulting services
- Original Agricultural Business Systems (OABS) Tel: 021 870 2953 www.oabs.co.za An Agricultural Economics consultancy firm with a systems approach to problem solving. Ken Bern has experience in the berry sector.
- OZblu www.ozblu.com A blueberry producer based in South Africa and Australia
- Polkadraai Strawberry Farm Tel: 021 881 3303 http://polkadraaifarm.co.za
- Pomegranate Dejuicing Company Tel: 083 228 8498
- Pomono runs the Pomegranates Direct project. See www.pomegranatesdirect.com.
- Red Berry Farm Tel: 044 870 7123/ 083 277 7421 www.redberryfarm.co.za
- RSA International Tel: 021 532 1300 www.rsa.co.za
- SAPEX Exports Tel: 021 883 8280 www.sapex.co.za Exporter
- Star South Tel: 021 864 3655 www.starsouth.co.za Pomegranate exporter
- Stargrow Fruit Marketing Tel: 021 880 1882 www.stargrow.co.za
- TopFruit Tel: 021 874 1033 www.topfruit.co.za
- United Exports Tel: 021 851 1618 www.united-exports.com
- Vanguard International Tel: 083 680 5156 www.vanguardteam.com Exporter
- Wildebraam Berry Estate Tel: 028 514 3132 www.wildebraam.co.za
- Winterwood Farms Ltd www.winterwood.co.uk A major company in the Berries sector – importing and exporting
- Wynland Boerdery Tel: 021 881 3222 www.zetler.co.za One of the leading strawberry producers in the Western Cape
Training and research
- ARC-Infruitec/Nietvoorbij Tel: 021 809 3100 www.arc.agric.za
- ARC-Plant Protection Research (PPR) Charnie Craemer: acarologist (mite specialist) CraemerC [at] arc.agric.za Research on and identification of plant feeding mite pests. Several species of the Eriophyoidea (e.g., bud mites) are important pests of several currants and berries world-wide.
- Stellenbosch University Department of Horticultural Science Tel 021 808 4900 www.sun.ac.za/horticulture
- University of the Free State Department of Soil, Crop and Climate Sciences Tel: 051 401 2212 www.ufs.ac.za
Websites and publications
Refer to websites listed earlier in this chapter.
- The exotic fruit category of the Fresh Produce Exporters Forum (FPEF) export directory covers blueberries, raspberries and pomegranates. Download the latest one at https://fpef.co.za.
- The Abstract of Agricultural Statistics on www.daff.gov.za , website of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries, includes information on “Strawberries and other berries: Production, gross value, sales on markets and purchases for processing”. There is a grower guide for strawberries under “Brochures and production guidelines”. Find also the annual Statistics on fresh produce markets, which gives an exposition of the mass, value and unit value of the sales of fruit at each of the national fresh produce markets, month by month. Find the publications under the “Resource Centre” option.
- Call 012 842 4017 or email iaeinfo [at] arc.agric.za for the following publications, available from the ARC-Agricultural Engineering: (i) Processing of Berries, Volume 1 (Blackberries; Blackcurrent; Blueberries; Cape Gooseberries; Cherries) (ii) Processing of Berries, Volume 2 (Gooseberries; Raspberries; Redcurrants; Strawberries)
- SA Groente en Vrugte – a magazine, 6 issues a year. Contact 018 293 0622 for more information
- Strawberry, raspberry, blackberry and blueberry are dealt with in the publication “Fruit and nut production in KZN”, which can be downloaded on the KZN Department of Agriculture website at www.kzndard.gov.za/resource-centre/guideline-documents
- Find the strawberry grower guide on the Haifa website at www.haifa-group.com.
- Ferreira, J. 2017, October 20. “Strawberries: overcoming the stumbling blocks”. Farmer’s Weekly. Available at www.farmersweekly.co.za/crops/fruit-nuts/strawberries-overcoming-stumbling-blocks/
- Find other articles on berries and exotic fruit in the Farmer’s Weekly and its website like “The complexity of berry farming” (which includes grower notes) and “A look at South Africa’s pomegranate production”. Visit www.farmersweekly.co.za.
- Slot, S.B. 2017, June 6. “Quality Control challenges for blueberry exporters and retailers”. Fresh Plaza. Available at www.freshplaza.com/article/177008/Quality-Control-challenges-for-blueberry-exporters-and-retailers
- Find the article “Burgeoning South African dragon fly fruit industry” at www.freshplaza.com.
Our thanks to Trevor McKenzie (Eurafruit), Jeán Kotzé (Dreammaker Fruits) and Nick Prinsloo (Nooitgedacht Research Station) for previous input and valuable feedback. Other sources include the International TradeProbe (47) from www.namc.co.za and the article “Exporting berries to the UK has its own unique challenges” at www.howwemadeitinafrica.com.