Australian grape exporter testing the waters in China
The Grape House director Charlie Costa tells www.freshfruitportal.com the exchange rate has forced the company to focus a higher percentage of volumes on the domestic market.
"Generally 95% of our business is export and 5% is domestic, but this season it’s actually gone to 50% export and 50% domestic, based on the high dollar and our risk assessments," he says.
"But we have landed our first container of grapes in China last week and plan to be doing more at this point; about two to four containers a week direct to the Chinese mainland.
"Everyone is a bit nervous in doing the direct protocols but a few growers are starting to do it. We’ve gone over and we’re comfortable at the moment."
He says there hasn't been much of a problem with competition due to the high quality of the company's Crimson Seedless and Red Globes it has sent to China.
Costa adds Russia is also a strong growth market with arount two to five containers sent there per week, with a connection that has grown over recent years.
"They want a good straight line at a good straight price. They don’t want any glamour fruit, it’s like dealing with supermarkets chains, they want a good price and a consistent line."
In terms of other export markets, he says New Zealand has been "OK" this year, Indonesia has been stable, Singapore has been consistent and Vietname shipments have gone well.
The company has 1500 acres of table grapes with the Crimson Seedless and Red Globe as its main varieties, followed by Autumn Royals and Thompson Seedless, as well as other varieties such as Menindee Seedless, Red Rob, Golden Globe, Stanley Seedless, Ohanez and Calmeria.
"Our production is slightly lighter this year but the quality is better. There is a better size as we haven’t had a lot of rain and there are better sugar levels."
Related story: Australia exports first table grapes to China
Photo: The Grape House