Costa Group’s African Blue berry operations benefit from FNQ Variety Improvement Program

Costa Group’s African Blue business, operating out of Morocco since 2007, now has around 465ha of blueberries under production. To broaden its market reach and extend seasonal supply, African Blue has licensed Costa varieties to growers across South-East Africa (South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe), with the first plantings of Kirra, Akala, Corindi Verdure and Arana varieties in 2018. ‘Grower favourite’ Arana now has capacity to service Costa’s Asian market with a premium product and higher returns.

The Zimbabwe farms have a climate and latitude similar to that of Far North Queensland, Australia, where Costa has a significant blueberry operation geared towards early-season production. Assuming that varieties developed through Costa’s Variety Improvement Program (FNQ) will likely perform well in Zimbabwe, farmers licensed to grow berries for African Blue will take up new Costa varieties Breeze, Delight, Eterna and Cascade progressively over the next three years.

Berries International Horticultural Manager Greg Murdoch told Costa the aim was to supply its markets with fruit from this region from August to October, following Morocco’s season, which runs until June.

“The international blueberry market price increases around August to September and our main competition comes from Peru. We focus on supplying quality, premium fruit,” Murdoch said.

Deon Kirstein, previously part of Coffs Harbour’s berry industry, now supports Costa’s Zimbabwean growers.

Source: African Blue broadens supply I Costa Group news