Australia sends first cherry shipments to China
Around 10 growers will be sending their cherries to the Asian giant through to the end of the 2013 Tasmanian season, including the Chinese New Year gift-giving period.
Cherry Growers Australia (CGA) national president Andrew Smith said the completion of the agreement was a fantastic step for the Australian cherry industry.
"This will really help set the industry on a new course and is in line with our Export Roadmap which aims to lift the exports of Australian cherries from 20 per cent per season, which is around 2000 tonnes to about 20 countries globally, to 50 per cent or 6000 tonnes by 2017," he said.
"We are living in the Asian Century and there is great potential for Australian industries to benefit from access to the Asian markets. We are now on track to target new emerging Asian markets and look forward to continuing to supply and growing the existing markets we already service.
"We have a season that only lasts 100 days so we need to make every opportunity a winner in both the domestic and export markets. Feedback shows that Australian cherries are considered very high quality, have strong appeal to consumers across Asia and command great prices."
CGA chief executive officer Simon Boughey said the industry had a strong commercial advantage in Asia.
"We are able to airfreight cherries to their destination within two to three days of harvest and when shipped by sea, product can arrive within 14 to 16 days. This is still far quicker than our main competitor Chile whose product takes six weeks by sea," he said.
"Our growers will be targeting the premium end of the market during the peak counter-seasonal period from now until the Chinese New Year on 10 February, which is celebrated across a number of counties in Asia and of course in Australia."
The final audit to export cherries to China has been discussed and approved by Chinese authorities, and the protocol will be reviewed after the first year of trade.
"Ideally we would like to have airfreight and seafreight options for all growers to utilise from across Australia in 2013/14 season."
Fruit Growers Tasmania business development manager Lucy Gregg said Chinese access was a fantastic addition to her state's export opportunities.
"We currently have access to Taiwan, South Korea and Japan due to our area-free status for fruit fly and a range of other non-protocol markets across Asia, Europe and other regions.
"The Tasmanian industry has expanded significantly over the last five years and with production to increase further over the next few years it is very important that we develop more significant export markets.
"The orders for China are already arriving and we are expecting a strong first season of exports."
While 10 growers have so far indicated their intentions to send cherries to China, that number is expected to grow to 50 next season.