Chilean avocados close in on Australian market access

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Chilean avocados close in on Australian market access

The Australian Government has published its pest risk assessment of Chilean avocados, moving the fruit one step closer to entering the market. 

This final report recommends that the importation of fresh avocado fruit to Australia from all commercial production areas of Chile be permitted, subject to it meeting a range of biosecurity requirements.

Those requirements include a range of risk management measures combined with an operational system.

"The recommended risk management measures will reduce the risks posed by the seven identified quarantine pests, so
as to achieve the appropriate level of protection for Australia," the report said.

One measure is area freedom or fruit treatment (such as cold disinfestation treatment) for all cultivars for Mediterranean fruit fly, or "hard condition" of fruit for the Hass cultivar only. 

Hard condition means the fruit is deliberately detached from healthy branches of living trees and showing no signs of softening or spotted area, or of having any areas of breakdown or broken skin.

Another is pre-export visual inspection and, if found, remedial action for grape mealybug, Oligonychus spider mites and thrips.

"The department recognises Chile as free from Mediterranean fruit fly. However, in the case of an outbreak of Mediterranean fruit fly, should Chile wish to use one or more of the recommended measures ... SAG [Chile's phytosanitary watchdog] would need to provide an appropriate technical submission to the department for its consideration," the report said.

"Upon finalisation of this policy, Chile must be able to demonstrate to the department that processes and procedures are in place to implement the recommended risk management measures."

The pest risk assessment of Chilean avocados was announced in March 2019.

Currently the importation of fresh avocado fruit for human consumption is permitted into Australia only from New Zealand.

John Tyas, chief executive of Avocados Australia, was quoted as saying that although Chile's access could be achieved as early as 2021, Australia is unlikely to become a key market for the country's exporters.

“The Australian market is well supplied already from domestic production and summer imports from New Zealand. In time, we expect that New Zealand supplies will not be required either,” he said.

“With a population of just 25m, Australia is a minnow compared to Chile’s existing export markets in Europe, the US, and China.”

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