FCO, a major Georgian blueberry producer working mainly for export, intends to enter the high-price and premium segments of the global market this year. The company’s products will be traded under the GeorgianBlue brand from now on.
FCO LLC, located in the village of Laituri, Ozurgeti region (Guria region, Western Georgia), is currently producing blueberries on 36 hectares. The company received the Global G.A.P. GRASP certificate for blueberries in 2020. The company owns another 290 hectares of agricultural land to be converted gradually in the same region. In particular, FCO plans to increase the area of blueberry plantation to 260 hectares in the next 4-5 years.
“The company has focused on improving the post-harvest infrastructure on the eve of the new season. In particular, we have installed a modern rapid pre-cooling system on our farm. We expect the latest equipment for sorting and packaging blueberries to be delivered from the USA by the end of April, which will allow sorting berries both by size and softness, and packing them into containers of various shapes and sizes – 125 grams, 250 grams, 500 grams, etc. We already have refrigerated units for storage. So, the company will enter the new season with a completely developed post-harvest infrastructure that comply with international standards. In addition, with the new brand our products will be recognizable both in the local and export markets – they will be presented under the GeorgianBlue brand (“GeorgianBlue – Finest Blueberries from the hills of Guria”). All this, together with the volume and growing global demand for blueberries, will allow us to successfully cooperate with high-level foreign buyers – supermarket chains and other large foreign traders that value quality and are ready to pay more,” FCO representative Rati Morchiladze told EastFruit .
According to Rati Morchiladze, the company plans to export its products to the markets of the EU countries, Great Britain, Russia and the Persian Gulf this season.
“We are now negotiating with large buyers from these countries. The demand is high and they are putting forward attractive offers for us. According to our preliminary estimates, we will export at least 95% of all our products this year,” he said.
According to the current forecast of the FCO company, it will start the blueberry season this year in early June – 4-5 days later than last year due to weather conditions. “However, the timing of the start of the harvest may still change – it will depend on the weather conditions in the second half of spring”, – a company representative said.
As Rati Morchiladze said, the company will set up a collection point for blueberries from farmers in the Guria region this year for the first time.
“This will help them sell their products, and for us to have larger volumes of export shipments. A proper quality control mechanism has been introduced in our production, and sorting will be available. Finished products, depending on the quality, will be sold through the appropriate channels,” he said.
According to the company’s plans, this season it intends to sell about 300 tons of blueberries, 180 tons of which will be its own harvest, and the rest will be purchases from local farmers.
“We will gradually expand our blueberry plantation, and accordingly, our yields will grow. We are sure that in a few years GeorgianBlue will take a leading position in the export of Georgian agricultural products and become a worthy participant in the international blueberry market,” Rati Morchiladze noted.
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