A massive harvesting of blueberries will begin in Georgia in a week. In the last two seasons due to relatively cold weather and rains in producing regions, the beginning of the harvesting season moved to June. However, the early harvest is already sold on the local market. Growers avoid making a prognosis regarding the export prices yet. The volume of harvest is expected to increase significantly.
The 2023 season should become the season when Georgia slowly but stable will start exporting to European and Arab countries and reduces share of Russian market in blueberry export, although Russia will remain the major market this season too.
EastFruit contacted major blueberry growers in Georgia and found out their expectations for the upcoming season.
Local market developments
Most growers EastFruit spoke with, expect an increase in yields, largely because orchards are becoming mature. The five surveyed producers (Blue Bird, Georgian Blue, Blue-Berry, Agrolane, Green Valley) expect a total harvest of at least 480 tons in the 2023 season. At the moment, the wholesale price of one kilogram of blueberry on the local market varies between 20-30 GEL ($7,74-$11.61), although it is expected that the prices will fall from the next week. Export prices will be defined when traders start buying.
Source: Rural Development Agency
In the upcoming 2023 season, 63.8 hectares of blueberry orchards planted in 2017 will mature, and an additional 700 hectares will yield their first commercial harvest. A total of 1,762 ha of orchards of blueberries with drip irrigation system were planted within the “Plant the Future” program from 2015 to 2022, the peak area of orchards was financed in 2021, but in 2022 the financed area fell by about three times.
Georgia’s blueberry exports have been steadily increasing, with the 2022 season witnessing the export of 1,360 tons of blueberries, resulting in a revenue of $8,200,000 USD. The annual growth rate of blueberry exports between 2020 and 2022 ranged from 43% to 44%, and it is expected to be even higher this year. According to the head of the blueberry growers’ association Tornike Panjavidze, in the upcoming 2023 season, Georgia is projected to harvest at least 3,000 tons of blueberries, indicating a significant 50% increase compared to the previous year. Expanded harvest creates opportunities for the diversification of export markets.
Blueberry growers unite to export on new markets
Officially Georgian blueberry growers’ association was registered in Aprils 2023, but growers are working together for several months. The main goal of this union is to produce, harvest, and export high-quality blueberries in European and Arabic markets.
At the moment, the association has 18 members, but from June the number of members will increase to 22. In total, 22 companies own 900 ha of blueberry orchards and expect a harvest of 800-1000 tons this season.
For more information: east-fruit.com