Australia "breaking new ground" with tropical fruit export plan development

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A recent study funded by Australia's Hort Innovation has found that there is export significant potential for the country's numerous tropical fruits that are largely sold in the domestic market.

The study, 'Australian Tropical Fruit Export Strategies 2023', was developed using research from market-mapping company McKinna.

It found that Australia's dark-skinned passion fruit varieties are unique, that the country has the longest lychee production window in the world, and that premium Australian bananas could prove successful overseas.

"Many Australian tropical fruit varieties undergo little to no export activity currently, so through the development of these strategies we are really breaking new ground," said John Lloyd, chief executive of Hort Innovation.

"Some products such as bananas have clear possibilities, while other products such as papaya are faced with more challenges, particularly because they are highly perishable which is difficult with freight."

The tropical fruit sectors - including papaya, passionfruit, banana, lychee, persimmon and lime - need to collaborate to build new export business models and supply chains, and maximize immediate opportunities while also pursuing new market access in the long-term, he said.

Lloyd also believes that new product development with premium pricing and branding are key.

"Australian bananas cannot compete just on price due to higher labor and freight costs than our competitors, which are mostly developing countries," said Lloyd.

"However, there is an opportunity to market niche high-end products."

He believes that passionfruits are a prime example of a product with strong potential for product differentiation, as the dark-skinned varieties are unique to Australia and New Zealand.

"Discerning consumers, particularly in Asia, like premium-quality fruit that is attractive, and unique. Partnering with New Zealand to extend our supply window could certainly bring decent returns to Aussie growers," he continued.

He also sees opportunities for lychees in the U.S., Hong Kong, New Zealand and Singapore.

"However, there is a need to address the efficiency of current supply chains, which is critical due to the fruit's acute temperature sensitivity and short shelf life," he said.

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