THE blueberry economy - still the Coffs Coast's fastest growing industry - is generating jobs, investment and export opportunities as the peak fruit harvesting season ramps up.
The berry picking was yesterday in full swing at Costa Group's Corindi farms. In fact, the company needs to find hundreds of extra pickers in coming weeks to keep up with the ripening berries, and the work isn't just funding the holidays of backpackers.
With blueberry export markets opened to China and India this year, Australia is now exporting blueberries to 20 countries and the Coffs Coast remains New South Wales' berry capital.
Blueberries last year netted $8.9 million in exports for Australia while the local industry estimates that it generates some $250 million in economic benefit.
Blueberry shipments were this week made to new importers in Southern India and China as the call out for more pickers carries across the Coffs Coast.
THE blueberry industry is continuously booming and is currently on the look-out for an extra 300 workers over coming weeks.
Close to 2000 workers will be on Costa's Berry Farm in Corindi as the blueberry and raspberry harvest continues during November and December.
David Jordan, General Manager Costa Berry Category, said there are plenty of work opportunities available.
"Along with a large contingent of backpackers, we have 150 local people who are picking raspberries all year round and between 80 and 100 locals picking blueberries," Mr Jordan said.
"We are one of the largest employers in this region and have a strong focus on training and support for our staff.
"With around 2000 workers in our peak season, we provide significant benefits to the tourism and retail industries.
"Our people also contribute to the diverse social fabric of our region," Mr Jordan said.
Costa recently ran two booked-out farm tours during the Blues and Berries Community Fair with numerous others on the waiting list.
"We also provide donations of our berries to a range of other sporting and community groups and we're working closely with TAFE NSW to develop ongoing training programs and new opportunities for young people to move into the horticulture industry.
The blueberry season generally runs from late May through to December, with a peak in October, while raspberries are picked all year round.
Jobs are not restricted to Corindi as Costa has other farms in Far North Queensland, southern New South Wales, Tasmania and Western Australia with opportunities for workers to move to other regions.
For more information about Costa's picking and maintenance positions available, email email@example.com