Banner Fascinating facts about the global blueberry industry

Fascinating facts about the global blueberry industry

Blueberries are an incredibly popular crop, prized for their delicious flavour and high nutritional value. So it might surprise you to know that this berry hasn’t been grown in South Africa for all that long. According to Berries ZA, an organisation representing the local berry industry, blueberries were first introduced to the country in the 1970s, with planting becoming more widespread in the 90s. Since then, however, the local industry has flourished – and so has the international one.

Here’s a look at some interesting facts about blueberry production.

More blueberries are being grown worldwide than ever before.

Production of these little beauties has risen dramatically around the globe. A whopping 1.5 million tons were produced in 2021 compared to only +- 151 000 tons in 2001. That’s according to a 2022 report commissioned by Berries ZA. Who were the top five blueberry-producing countries in 2021? China took the top spot, followed by the United States, Peru, Chile, and Mexico.

South Africa is at number 10.

That’s right, South Africa took the number 10 spot for blueberry production in 2021. That said, our total production is still small compared to other blueberry-producing countries – according to Berries ZA, we contribute 2% of the total tons produced worldwide.

Most of our blueberries are exported.

SA only keeps arond 30% of its blueberries on home soil. A whopping 70% are destined for the international market with most of them landing up in the United Kingdom and Europe. And just how many tons do we export? According to Berries ZA, our exports have grown from 1 792 tons in 2014 to over 20 000 tons in 2021. An amazing accomplishment for this super food.

Our season runs from August to February.

South Africa’s blueberry season is, of course, very different to that in the northern hemisphere. And with an increasing number of southern hemisphere countries (like Chile, and Peru) ramping up blueberry production, combined with greenhouse technology, these healthy little fruits are now available all year, all around the world. 

Most of our blueberries are grown in the Western Cape.

As it stands, there are two main blueberry growing regions in South Africa – the Western Cape, which accounts for about 74% of production, and Limpopo Province, which accounts for about 20% of production.

There are significant benefits to growing blueberries in a greenhouse.

Blueberries can be a challenging crop to grow. They have a fine, shallow root system and are vulnerable to water stress. What’s more, they prefer well-drained soil and a low-pH environment. So being able to control growing conditions can make all the difference to the yield and the quality. That’s why most blueberries start their lives in greenhouses. Greenhouses allow growers to create optimal conditions for these fragile fruits – maintain a balanced environment, protect their berries from harsh conditions and pests, and give them the precise amounts of food and water they need to thrive.


If you’re interested in partnering with Vegtech Netafim on your next blueberry project, contact us on +27 21 987 6980 or