Heatwave makes Aussie grape growers bullish on quality

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Heatwave makes Aussie grape growers bullish on quality

High temperatures in Australia have led to positive expectations for sugar content in the country's table grapes, which may lead to above average fruit quality for exports ahead of Chinese New Year celebrations in Asia. grapes red and white - water droplet

However, with China currently off limits due to phytosanitary concerns, Australian Table Grape Association (ATGA) chief executive officer Jeff Scott says the bulk of early season grape shipments - such as Midnight Beauty, Flame Seedless and Ralli Seedless - are going to Thailand.

"We have received information from China which we are assessing and we will be replying to China before the week’s out, and we hope that China will accept that and then we can start to commence trade again," he tells www.freshfruitportal.com.

"At the moment most of our exports are going to Thailand, and the reason that is occurring is firstly, the prices for the festive season, and secondly, the fact Thailand recognize Sunraysia as a pest-free area, so we have the ability to airfreight more grapes to Thailand."

He says Sunraysia accounts for about 99% of Australia's grape exports, while growing regions in the Riverland and Tasmania are also classified as pest-free.

"We’ve had a reasonably good growing season. There was one minor hot spell three or four weeks ago at a stage where some varieties got a little bit sunburnt, but very minimal.

"Right now we’ve got a bit of a heatwave happening, but all that’s going to do is bring more intense sugars."

He says growers are reporting either average or more than average volumes, but more importantly that quality has been looking "very good".

"This is pleasing because we always do have a reputation for producing good quality grapes, so for the growers to say the grapes are looking better than average, that's promising for our growers who export.

"Also, with the [Australian] dollar down below 90 [U.S.] cents, that's even more promising."

He adds that the remainder of grape exports are going to other Asian neighbors such as Vietnam and Indonesia. For the latter, Scott says communication has been ongoing with Indonesian authorities to regain access to Jakarta.

"Indonesia to us is an extremely important market and we work very well with the importers association over there in Indonesia.

"We have had meetings last year with the Ministry of Trade and the Ministry of Agriculture – we did have some concerns about trying to land in Jakarta, and for the last year we've been going to Surabaya.

"But we're hoping the relationship can improve and we can export our grapes to Jakarta. We're always in discussions with Indonesia and we’re hoping to further enhance those discussions."

Photo: www.shutterstock.com



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