U.S. receives first ever commercial Aussie litchi shipment
Two years after the U.S. market officially opened for Australia litchis, an exporter-importer has successfully carried out its first commercial shipment across the Pacific Ocean.
Produce company FAVCO said the inaugural export was made in late December to Los Angeles, adding samples had now been distributed to exotic fruit wholesalers and retailers around the West Coast and New York.
The fruit was supplied to the shipper by Seasons Farm Fresh, which works with various small family-run farms.
FAVCO is one of three approved exporters to send the product to the U.S. market, which requires the fruit be irradiated in Australia.
"Our season begins in volume in mid December and runs through potentially to late February. We are looking at doing up to five shipments this year during December/ Early January," FAVCO representative John Nardi said.
"It is a difficult protocol to meet so we are only looking at doing small trial shipments this year. If successful, we can do a lot more quantity and a two month program for next year."
Initial feedback has been very positive, Seasons Farm Fresh said, as the Tai So variety litchis have excellent appearance and flavor.
It added the price point for the Australia litchis would be high, but said growers and exporters were confident that demand would allow for a market to develop over the next few years.
Speaking to www.freshfruitportal.com in November, Australian Lychee Growers Association president Derek Foley said the registration of chemicals in both countries had been the industry’s final hurdle in carrying out exports to the U.S.
In May last year, U.S. authorities registered an insecticide that had been used in Australia for mite control, and in early November the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) registered a pesticide called Switch used to combat pepper spot.
All Australian litchi exports will be made via airfreight due to the tropical fruit’s high perishability.
In terms of market prospects, Foley said the litchi sector would likely follow along a similar path to the mango industry and build up volumes gradually.
"We’ll start off slowly gauging the reaction. There’s lots of negotiating with things like prices – that’s what makes it worthwhile,” he said.
Photo: Seasons Farm Fresh Facebook page