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Romanian blueberry production: future competition?Blueberry production might still be small in Romania, but it has seen big growth in the last few years. George Podar, from Blueberry Finn, started growing blueberries in 2013 and said that production is increasing because blueberries are good business, high in demand and make good profits. Currently growing on 10 hectares, he plans to expand production by an additional 5 hectares this year.
Maciej Chmielewski from Milbor, a European distributor of packing and sorting equipment for the fruit and vegetable industry, had recently predicted that Romania could become an increasingly more important player in the blueberry market in late 2016. "Blueberry cultivation in Romania is expected to see a big boom over the next couple of years, especially on the back of EU funding, where growers are reimbursed by 90% on the investments they make to improve their operations,"
"Although blueberry production in Romania is still on a smaller scale, with most plantations averaging around 10 to 40 hectares, many producers have been looking to expand to up to 100 hectares. The production area currently totals less than 300 hectares, but scientists have said that, based on soil analysis and acidity, there is potential in the future to reach up to 1,500 hectares." shared Chmielewski.
No associations for growers
Podar from Blueberry Finn said that, although production is increasing, the fact that there is no grower's association does make it difficult to become a bigger player in the retail and export scene.
"We have a lot of small growers here in Romania, which means no single grower has enough to sell directly to retailers. At the moment we have a foreign buyer who purchases around 80% of the country's entire production, which on one side gives security, but it also limits the opportunity to earn more." said Podar.
The blueberry harvest typically starts in early June and continues through August. At Blueberry Finn the main variety grown is Duke, an early variety with good profits, along with some Elliot and Legacy.
Are pots the future?
Although his berries are currently grown in open ground, George said that he plans on switching over to growing his blueberries in pots in the future.
"The next step I would like to take for developing my business is to start growing my plants in plastic pots. I think that this is the future for blueberry cultivation. Blueberries are well suited to being grown in pots, they are three times more productive, plus you are able to have complete control over the soil they are grown in." concluded Podar.
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