The blueberry has been compared to the avocado – why? Because thanks to the increased demand for this superfood, innovation in farming and marketing has meant that, like the avocado some years back, it has gone from being a seasonal treat to a year round staple.
This is largely thanks to new varieties of the berry, including OzBlu which through a unique, natural breeding program have created a product range of blueberries that are generally bigger, juicier, crunchier and tastier than older traditional varieties.
This new berry has allowed the industry to extend its farming beyond traditional berry-producing regions in the south to newer regions like Gauteng, Limpopo and Northwest Province.
By spreading production geographically and growing the berries out of the rainy season in each area, producers are able to produce blueberries in South Africa 52 weeks of the year.
According to United Exports, one of the country’s major producers, there has been phenomenal growth domestically with the new varieties offering the consumer a consistent product throughout the year. The new low chill varieties offer better taste with better sugars and better flavours. Traditional berries are often soft, mushy and acidic.
Although still expensive it is hoped that through increased production, the price of blueberries will come down locally over the next 24 to 36 months. The demand from international market is also expected to increase.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF BLUEBERRIES*
The blueberry has been labelled a superfood for some time now and features in most eating and diet plans. But what it is it about this little berry that makes it so powerful? Here are a few of the health benefits:
Blueberries Protect Against Ageing: Several studies have shown that, due to their high antioxidant content, blueberries can protect against this DNA damage and inflammation.
Blueberries Protect & Boost the Brain: Blueberries are known as “neuro-protective agents”. This means that they can literally protect our brains from degeneration, neurotoxicity and oxidative stress. A great reason to start the day with blueberries or to add them to the school lunchboxes! Find blueberry breakfast recipes here.
Blueberries Fight Cancer: Clinical studies have even discovered that, unlike radiation and chemotherapy, gallic acid-rich foods like blueberries can kill cancer without harming healthy cells.
Blueberries Are Good For The Gut: They support digestion and boost ‘good’ bacteria. Being a natural source of soluble and insoluble fibre, blueberries are a valuable prebiotic.
Blueberries Lower Blood Pressure: Blueberries appear to have significant benefits for people with high blood pressure.
Blueberries Build and Maintain Healthy Bones: Blueberries contain iron, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and vitamin K, all of which are found in bones.
Blueberries Benefit the Skin: The anthocyanidins, vitamin C and copper found in blueberries all help the body produce collagen, thereby reducing the visible signs of skin ageing. Blueberries also contain resveratrol, which is proven to reduce skin damage resulting from over exposure to the sun.
Blueberries Help Prevent Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs): Like cranberries, blueberries contain flavonoids that can prevent certain bacteria from binding to the wall of the urinary bladder. This may be useful in preventing urinary tract infections.
Blueberries Can Have Anti-Diabetic Effects: Blueberries are moderate in sugar. Research also suggests that anthocyanins in blueberries can have beneficial effects on insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism.
Blueberries May Help Prevent Heart Disease: Eating blueberries may lower blood pressure and oxidized LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) (20) – risk factors which may lead to heart disease.
FORGET TRADING IN SHARES– BUY A BLUEBERRY BUSH
Did you know you can even invest in blueberries? Through smart farming you can buy blueberry bushes and literally reap the benefits of their biannual harvest.
Essentially smart farming or impact farming means that as an impact farmer, you own the physical asset that produces your income. When it comes to blueberries you own the biannual blueberry harvest from the blueberry bushes that you purchase. The company you invest through take care of the own the farms, take care of the insurance, harvest and sale of the berries. You earn the income twice a year from the sales of the actual produce.
The model is believed to offer an internal rate of return of 12% to 14% and is linked to inflation – as the price of blueberries increase each year so does the return on investment.