United Exports (Pty) Ltd (‘United Exports’), an Australian based agri-producer, plans to double its investment in Southern Africa, and in particular South Africa, over the next five years.
As part of United Exports’ global expansion, the company plans to invest in excess of R1.3 billion – or US$85 million – over the next 5 years in the South African agricultural economy. This significant investment is expected to create an additional 8,400 new jobs across the country – and particularly in rural areas.
The United Exports value chain already supports well over 10,000 jobs at the peak of the blueberry growing season, in diverse operations on farms, in packhouses, and at ports of export across the country.
This announcement comes just days after two containers of United Exports’ unlicensed OZblu® proprietary fruit were confiscated in Rotterdam by the European Union Customs Authority. Both containers of fruit were from Ross Berries (Pty) Ltd (‘Ross Berries’), part of the Rossouw Family of Companies. The first 10,300 kg container was confiscated on 27 October 2020, and the second 16,600 kg container was confiscated on 5 November 2020.
Ross Berries was previously licensed to produce the OZblu® proprietary fruit under license held by a related company, Rosle Berries (Pty) Ltd (‘Rosle Berries’). However, Rosle Berries terminated this license – and accordingly the entitlement of Ross Berries to produce OZblu® proprietary fruit – in May 2020.
Late on 6 November 2020, Rosle Berries agreed a new license arrangement with United Exports for itself only, leaving its related company Ross Berries unlicensed.
Western Cape grower Ross Berries, under Chris Rossouw, has persisted in its rejection of an offer by United Exports of an interim license that would legitimise its operations. Instead, Ross Berries stubbornly and incorrectly claims authority to grow, export and sell United Export’s OZblu® proprietary fruit. This is fundamentally false and in complete violation of United Exports’ proprietary and intellectual property rights. United Exports has developed the relevant varieties and retains ownership of the Plant Breeder Rights in respect thereof in South Africa, in the European Union and elsewhere in the World.
United Exports is committed to upholding Plant Breeder Rights and maintaining sound commercial relationships throughout the blueberries value chain. The protection of Plant Rights and intellectual property – based on decades of investment of human and financial capital – is essential to the stability and growth of the South African agri-economy, and a material component of the South African economy in general.
United Exports respects and will continue to follow due process, and has brought proceedings in the European Union and will immediately launch proceedings in South Africa against Ross Berries to protect its intellectual property.
Kabelo Kgobisa – +27 (81) 874 2573