Australia slashes China-bound grape projections

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Australia slashes China-bound grape projections

Australian growers will likely send far fewer grapes directly to China than expected before harvest this year, but an industry representative says pre-clearance inspections have been positive and demand is high. Australian Crimson Seedless

Australian Table Grape Association (ATGA) CEO Jeff Scott told the season was eight weeks underway and would go until June.

"When I did the survey prior to our inspections for all the exporters, there was anticipated up to 800 to 1000 containers to go to mainland China this year, however since the harvest has commenced, the fruit in terms of yield wasn’t as high as everyone anticipated," he said.

"I'm hoping now for about 400 containers to go to mainland China this year."

He said yields were down because of a hot spell around November, which was a crucial period.

"It hasn’t affected fruit quality, or the taste or anything else like that. The quality’s very good. The fruit that’s going over to China is very consistent in size, the majority is very consistent in color."

He also highlighted the Chinese were not accepting the presence of the beneficial red and blue beetle, which had impacted inspections.

"If there has been an anomaly it’s that we have a beetle that we have, that’s beneficial from Australia’s point of view, but the Chinese officials have said that they’re uncertain about it, and at this stage a detailed risk analysis hasn’t been done on that beetle for China. So China are rejecting containers if that beetle is found.

"Let’s assume we take the stats of rejections of the beetle out of the equation. We're up about the 88% pass rate, which I think is quite good, given that China believes that we are the only country that picks and packs in the field.

"Given China is extremely diligent in terms of their inspections on the Australian grapes, it's a fairly good success rate."

He said had been eight Chinese inspectors in Australia for pre-clearance so far and there were more to come. He cited a few more insect-related issues in addition to the red and blue beetle.

"There’s been a few other anomalies, like we’ve had a few pests of concern that China are looking for, and that’s been unfortunate, but our growers operate under an integrated pest management system.

"Occasionally the sprays might not reach the market on time, and hence the rejection, but that will happen with any inspection."

He said the season started with the Midknight Beauty variety, was now with Crimson Seedless and would later be sending Red Globes and Thompsons.

"Our main export variety is Crimson Seedless, and if we produce the high quality Crimson Seedless we know we can produce, we can’t supply enough to China. They desperately want our Crimson Seedless grapes.

"Chile exports an enormous amount of Red Globes to China, and at a low price, so we find it difficult to compete with Chile on price. Obviously we advocate that we believe we have a really nice tasting and good quality Red Globe.

"I get so many calls from Chinese buyers wanting to know who they can buy grapes from to export direct to China. We are in high demand, which is nice to know."


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