Mexican table grapes reach Australian shores
Update: Sonora Spring Grapes director Juan Alberto Laborin has informed Fresh Fruit Portal the shipment actually took place in June, and has also outlined plans for next season.
Mexico's National Health Service, Food Safety and Quality (SENASICA) has reported the country's first shipment of table grapes to Australia has officially arrived in the Port of Melbourne.
The exports of 16.7 metric tons (MT) were sent to Australia from the Port of Manzanillo, Colima, comprising 2,040 plastic boxes each weighing 8.2kg.
SENASICA said the fruit came from four growers from Mexico's major table grape-producing state of Sonora, known for its "Sonora Spring Grapes" program that is popular in the United States.
UN Comtrade statistics show Mexico exported US$161 million worth of table grapes last year, of which US$157 million was destined for the northern neighbor. However, SENASICA provided a slightly higher number of US$159.5 million in worldwide exports for the year, or around 163,000MT.
Speaking with Fresh Fruit Portal in April, Sonora Spring Grapes director Juan Alberto Laborin said the Australian market opening built on another relatively new market access arrangement with New Zealand, which had seen "good results" thus far.
The supplying growers produce table grapes on 300 hectares of vineyards.
SENASICA reported the shipment consisted of 3,345kg of Summer Royal grapes packed in 408 boxes, 11,709kg of Flame Seedless in 428 boxes, and 672.8kg of the variety Superior in 204 boxes.
The news comes shortly after South Korean publication Yonhap News Agency reported Canberra had eased import restrictions on the Campbell Early variety of table grape, in essence opening up imports to all grapes from the East Asian country.
Australia imported US$47.5 million worth of table grapes last year (16,167MT) of which the vast majority came from the U.S. and just 28MT came from South Korea.
Mexico's fruit exports to Australia were valued at just US$5 million last year; a miniscule portion of its US$5.5 billion in fruit export revenues worldwide (of which US$4.6 billion were in the U.S.).
This is the second export milestone for the Mexican fruit industry in the space of two months, following the country's first ever blueberry exports to mainland China in mid-June.
Headline Photo: Bernard Spragg, via Flickr Creative Commons