By Staff writer
"We are very proud and excited to secure the rights to grow this important and valuable crop"
Elite Agro, an Abu Dhabi producer and distributor of fresh vegetables and fruits, has secured a licence for the exclusive rights to cultivate the world’s best blueberry varieties in the Middle East.
The agreement signed with Australia-based Mountain Blue Orchards will see the introduction of blueberries bred and supplied to UAE farms first before branching out to other countries in the Middle East, state news agency WAM reported.
In the UAE, low tunnel greenhouses especially adapted to ensure the climatic needs of the varieties will be used in the cultivation of the crop, it said.
"Blueberries are a superfruit, rich in antioxidants which are important for fighting many diseases. We are very proud and excited to secure the rights to grow this important and valuable crop" said Saeed Al Bahri, cluster managing director at Elite Agro.
Globally, the demand for blueberries continues to increase and this is also the case in the Middle East where all blueberries are currently flown in from countries as far away as Mexico.
According to Euromonitor, UAE consumers ate 1,200 tonnes of blueberries in 2014 and is currently the largest consumer of blueberries per capita in the Middle East,.
Super and healthy foods are a part of burgeoning change in lifestyle in the UAE. In recent years, the incidence of diabetes and heart-related diseases have surged, mainly due to sedentary lifestyles and high-caloric intake.
Al Bahri added: "Elite Agro will become one of the top blueberry growers in the world. We already grow a large area in Morocco and supply countries in Northern Europe through a well-known international brand. We also have 100 hectares planted in Serbia.
"With the increased demand for health-giving products like blueberries, we are committed to growing a product that consumers need."
As the blueberry varieties are suited for a hotter climate, harvest is expected mid-late summer through to mid-winter, and by year four, when the varieties are matured, they are expected to produce 36 tonnes per hectare, he added.For all the latest industry news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.