Industry body the Australian Table Grape Association (ATGA) said it was “thrilled” with the news that the restrictions regarding fumigation and cold treatment had been eased.
ATGA CEO Jeff Scott commended the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Plant Division for its dedication in working with all with all parties to achieve this outcome.
“The ATGA and the Plant Division have been working solidly over the last 12 months to get in place these important revisions to the 2011 protocol, which will be a real enabler for significant growth for the Australian table grape industry,” Scott said.
Australian table grape exports to China during the 2016-17 season totaled 106,841 metric tons (MT), worth an estimated AU$373 million.
“China is our largest market. Last year’s harvest saw 40% of our total exports going to markets in China,” Scott said.
ATGA now predicts an increase of 20,000MT to China over the next two to three years.
“We estimate that with these changes to the protocol, the value of the exports will be worth an additional AU$100 million to the industry,” Scott said.
The agreed revisions will allow for exports directly into China, according to the association.
“In particular new markets will be opened up in northern China, servicing what are known as second-tier cities,” Scott said.
“The revisions to fumigation post-harvest and the introduction of four days cold treatment are a game changer because it will open up a whole new market in China for our growers and they will be able to deliver to market after only four days.
“Also of note is the move to allow 18 days cold storage at 3°C. Previously growers have had to cold store for 21 days at 2.1 degrees.”
He added this change would facilitate “greater flexibility in transportation of produce to market and assistance growers to meet customer demands in a timelier manner”.
The revisions also recognize the Riverland as a pest-free area, meaning that growers in that region can now air freight without having to undertake post-harvest treatment.