Australia: Thai cherry ban hits Tasmania despite pest-free status

Top Stories
Australia: Thai cherry ban hits Tasmania despite pest-free status

A Thai ban of Australian cherries has hit the state of Tasmania despite it having a pest-free status, but the indsutry is hopeful for re-entry in the 2012-13 season.

Fruit Growers Tasmania business development manager Lucy Gregg, told the move raised concerns but luckily the local market has been strong.

"Thailand is the third-biggest market for the Tasmanian cherry industry and obviously Tasmanian packers and exporters were concerned with Thailand's decision, particularly given that Tasmania is recognized by Thailand as having area freedom," she said.

"The effects of the ban, which could have been quite significant, have been somewhat alleviated due to the fact that Tasmania has had lighter cherry crop and as a consequence fruit size and quality has been exceptional and therefore export and mainland Australia demand has been very strong.

"Tasmania, as opposed to mainland Australia, currently has access to South Korea and Japan for cherries based on our unique quarantine status and the industry has worked very hard in developing export markets."

She said the industry had been "inundated" with enquiries from disappointed Thai importers who could no longer access Tasmanian cherries.

"This has been very disappointing given the significant amount of work we have done in recent years by attending trade shows and undertaking trade missions in the region.

"However the Tasmanian industry respects the process that the Thailand government has undertaken and we will continue to work closely with Cherry Growers Australia and the DAFF (Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) to negotiate re-entry of Tasmanian fruit based on our area freedom.

"We would certainly hope that Tasmania has access for fruit by the commencement of next season."

Cherry Growers Australia CEO Simon Boughey highlights similar demand factors are affecting the Australian industry as a whole, with strong domestic and export markets offsetting the lost Thailand opportunities to a degree.

"The effect hasn't been as severe as it could have been - we just have to get back to the drawing boad and do what we have to do to get access by 2012-13, and probably the pest-free areas will be first."

The Australian cherry industry is still waiting on approval for Chinese market access.

Subscribe to our newsletter