04 Feb Health benefits of blueberries
Blueberries are a superfood staple, found in more healthy meals than anyone could count. From blueberry smoothies post-workout to delicious waffles topped with blueberries and Greek yoghurt, you don’t need to look far to find these delicious little nutrition bombs.
But what makes them so nutritious anyway? Let’s take a look at the science of blueberries and find out why they are so good for the human body.
Packed with beneficial substances
Blueberries get their characteristic colour from a flavonoid called anthocyanin – a blue compound that does a lot more than make your blueberry smoothies look good.
Anthocyanin has a powerful effect on heart health, strengthening the heart muscle and helping to prevent premature heart disease. The dietary fibre in blueberries is also excellent for cardiovascular health because it helps to break down LDL (the so-called bad cholesterol) in the bloodstream.
Blueberries are also rich in vitamins C and B6, potassium, and polyphenols. These act as antioxidants in the body, helping to slow the aging process and potentially helping to prevent some types of cancer.
One cup of blueberries contains almost a quarter of the daily RDA of vitamin C.
The health benefits of blueberries extend beyond heart health and anti-aging
- Consuming blueberries regularly also assists diabetic patients to manage their symptoms thanks to its high dietary fibre content.
- Blueberries have a positive effect on the skin due to their high vitamin C content. This allows the body to produce sufficient collagen to keep the skin healthy and elastic.
- The skeletal system benefits from iron, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, manganese and zinc – all of which are found in a serving of blueberries.
- Blueberries may help keep blood pressure down. This could be due to their anti-inflammatory properties and the folic acid they contain, which is used for cellular repair.
With all the health benefits that blueberries offer, along with their delicious taste and versatility as an ingredient, it’s no wonder that this superfruit has become wildly popular all over the world.
Blue gold – the booming blueberry export market in SA
With negative news about South Africa’s economy making headlines lately, one resounding success story has been lost in the noise: South Africa’s blueberry industry is booming.
The value of our country’s blueberry industry has doubled every season over the past four years as orchards have increased in both size and number across the country. The relatively weak Rand has been a boon for exporters as they sell their blueberries to distributors and retailers in the EU, Southeast Asia and the UK.
- Blueberry exports have jumped from 11 300 tons in 2018 to a projected 17 000 tons in the 2019/2020 financial year.
- Over the past decade, the value of blueberry exports has rocketed from R15.8 million in 2008 to R 1.25 billion in 2018.
With the global market in blueberries set to exceed $4.5 billion in 2024, local producers can expect to see healthy demand for the product in the next few years.
At a time when good news stories and opportunities for growth are rare in the SA economy, “blue gold” is making the business community to sit up and take notice.
Tapping export markets – what producers should know
If you’re involved in the farming, packaging and distribution of blueberries – or if you manufacture supplements or alternative medicines using them – you may naturally be interested in exporting your product.
There are slightly different export procedures for fresh fruit and natural supplements, and you’ll need to obtain the necessary permits before you can sell your products overseas. This is best dealt with by an import/export or shipping specialist.
Before you take the decision to export however, you’ll need to find a suitable export market and import agent or distributor to work with.
While the demand for SA blueberries is strong in developed nations and some wealthier developing countries like Malaysia, the one relatively untapped market for South Africans is China.
The Chinese government has a “one fruit per country” policy whereby each foreign country will only be granted import clearance for one type of fruit at a time – and blueberries are relatively far down the list where SA exports are concerned.
Analysts expect blueberry imports to China to be approved in the long term, but we may be waiting 20 years or more for this to take place.
In the short term, it makes sense to focus on wealthy markets where consumers are health conscious, including Europe, the UK, North America and increasingly, Southeast Asia.
With the demand for blueberries and blueberry derived products growing annually, there are great opportunities to sell your products in dollars, Euros or Pound Sterling and take advantage of the weaker Rand.
Whether you’re planning to market your blueberry products locally or internationally, Dennisons has the expertise to assist you in making your venture a success. Contact us today and let us guide you through the process.