PRESS RELEASE:  OZblu becoming the benchmark in blueberry varieties

Perth, August 2018 – “We want OZblu blueberries to become the benchmark around the world: the preferred blueberry in the berries category and acknowledged by consumers and customers alike for our quality, consistency and great taste.”

In welcoming delegates to the OZblu Grower’s Conference on 23 and 24 July 2018, Roger Horak, Founder and Global CEO of United Exports, said he spend a lot of time in local and international markets and he is convinced that OZblu has arguably the best genetics right now. “We are also approaching our growing methods in an innovative and world-class way.”

Altogether more than 200 delegates from 17 different countries are attending this years’ conference which was held on Nyami Berries Estate, one of OZblu’s flagship estates. Guests attending included local and international growers, retailers and customers, as well as agricultural product and service suppliers.

Global market

Taking the delegates on a world-wide blueberry tour of stats and facts, Duncan Forbes, commercial director of United Experts, said blueberry consumption around the globe is growing, with China and Asia showing the most potential. “The blueberry category is still growing at double digits in developed markets, and growing by 5% in the largest market, the United States.”

The blueberry market globally is changing and countries, such as Chile, find themselves with varieties that are becoming obsolete. “Chile, while still, one of the biggest producers of blueberries in the world. Without a proper focus on variety renewal, the currently planted varieties are fast becoming obsolete. Our biggest challenge is in varietal change as our marketing window is being compressed,” said Andres De Witt from Lafrut.

Within this changing market, OZblu has a unique offering, says Horak.

The proof is in the eating

“We have an A-grade product – one with the best genetics in the world – but we are far from perfect,” says Horak. “We make mistakes and there is still room to reduce variance and improve consistency. We cannot afford to become complacent.”

“That is why we asked a group of children under the age of nine years to blind taste our fruit. Kids pallets are brutally honest: 90% of them preferred OZblu.”

Horak warns that the biggest threat in South Africa is the consumer’s demand for consistency in taste. “Unfortunately, there are some older variety blueberries on the shelves in South Africa that are of poor quality. The consumer finds it hard to distinguish the better-quality blueberry and this causes inconsistency in consumers’ taste. This could result in slower growth in our market.”

The future

What is next for OZblu? Says Horak: “We have enough varieties to become that leader and we are able to deliver a consistent product over a twelve-month period – a product that is crunchy and bursting with flavour.”

This, he says, should be achieved by making sure compliance and sustainability is part of the OZblu fabric. “We need to change our mentality from one of doing what our customers ask to one of making this part of our everyday farming practices.”