Japan and Australia to try out year-round fruit production

Project will take advantage of seasonal difference to grow high-end products for export
TOKYO -- Japan and Australia will start as early as April a joint project to harvest high-end fruit all year round, taking advantage of two countries' seasonal differences.

The two countries will contribute farmland, personnel and technology for the project, which is also aimed at encouraging businesses to participate in the unique farming structure.

The two governments mean to develop new markets for luxury produce, which will be targeted at wealthy consumers in China and Southeast Asia.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison agreed on a plan to proceed with building a cooperative structure at a summit in November 2018. The two leaders "recognized the potential for the two countries to boost agricultural exports into international markets through cooperation on bilateral counter-seasonal production," according to a joint statement released after the meeting.

The deal will enable Japanese farmers, who usually grow fruit in summer and fall, to also grow them in Australia when Japan is in winter, allowing them to harvest in all seasons. As the two countries have little time difference, farmers in one can monitor farms in the other in real time using video and provide instructions to staff on site.

The project will start in the northeastern Australian town of Ayr, where melons will be grown on a farm to be set up using land and greenhouses provided by the Australian side.

Japan will dispatch private-sector farmers from rural areas, including Fukuoka Prefecture, to the farm to provide necessary technological assistance and train local staff on farming the fruit.

The farmers will try Japanese farming techniques on an Australian melon variety and see if they can achieve the required quality and sugar content.

The project will seek to set up farms in other areas of the northeastern state of Queensland, where Ayr is located. They will also grow Japanese persimmons and strawberries.

By leading the project, the two countries aim to lay the groundwork for the year-round production scheme to encourage private-sector businesses to enter the unique farming scheme.

The first crop of fruit will be sent for quality inspections in Singapore and Thailand to see if they are viable for sale.

The two countries' interests could collide in rice, beef and dairy production, possibly spurring complaints from farmers on both sides. Therefore, they decided to cooperate in luxury fruit because there should be less overlap.

The cooperation could also attract new demand, including for the gift market. In 2017, Japan exported nearly 40,000 tons of fruit overseas, worth about 20 billion yen ($184 million). The total export volume and value have jumped 160% and 250%, respectively, over the past five years.

As the economies grow, high-income groups are increasing in China and ASEAN countries. With the luxury fruit market expanding, Ginza Sembikiya and other fruit distributors can expect more profit by selling luxury fruit year-round.

Japan and Australia are cooperating in more than luxury fruit. The two countries are jointly conducting a large shrimp farming project in the Northern Territory. In March 2017, Japan signed a memorandum with the government of Queensland to develop a new variety of soybeans starting in April 2018.

The northern part of the country is less populated and developed. The Australian government hopes Japan's technical cooperation will boost development in the area, which includes a third of the country's land.





Australia launches 10-year berry export plan amid soaring growth

Australia’s Hort Innovation has launched the Berry Export Strategy 2028 for the strawberry, raspberry and blackberry industries following huge international growth over recent years.

The dedicated export plan to grow the three sectors’ global presence over the next decade was driven by significant grower input, the organization said.

Hort Innovation trade manager Jenny Van de Meeberg said the value and volume of raspberry and blackberry exports rose by 100 percent between 2016 and 2017.

Strawberry exports rose 30 percent in volume and 26 percent in value over the same period.

“Australian berry sectors are in a firm position at the moment,” she said.

“Production, adoption of protected substrate cropping, improved genetics and an expanding geographic footprint have all helped put Aussie berries on a positive trajectory.

“We are seeing a real transition point. Broad industry interest and a strong commercial appetite for export market development combined with the potential to capitalise on existing trade agreements and build new trade partnerships has created this perfect environment for growth.”

High-income countries in Europe, North America and northern Asia have been identified as having a palate for Australian-grown berries, with more than 4,244 metric tons (MT) of fresh berries exported in the last financial year alone.

The strategy identified the best short-term prospect markets for the Australian blackberry and raspberry industry as Hong Kong, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and Canada.

The strongest short-term trade options identified for the strawberry sector were Thailand, Malaysia, New Zealand and Macau.

The strategy focuses heavily on growing the existing strawberry export market from 4 percent to at least 8 percent of national production by volume. For raspberries and blackberries, the sectors aim to achieve a 5 percent boost in exports assessed by volume across identified markets by 2021.

Tasmanian raspberry exporter Nic Hansen said: “The more options we have for export the better. Now we just have to get on with the job of ensuring industry has all the tools it needs, such as supporting data and relationship building opportunities, to thrive in new markets.”



Australian berry industry preparing to host biggest ever conference

The Australian berry industry is preparing to welcome representatives from around the world, as it strengthens its export growth and potential.

Raspberries and Blackberries Australia (RABA) Executive Officer Jonathan Eccles says the global element to February’s BerryQuest International 2018, goes beyond just having speakers and guests from overseas across the four major berry categories; strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries.

"The berry industry has grown in the past 10 years to the point where we have interest from local growers in exporting and the keen interest from overseas markets," Mr Eccles said. "So that's where the theme for the conference comes from. We've got over 35 exhibitors and so far our attendance is reaching 320, which makes it the biggest berry conference ever held in Australia."

Representatives will travel from the United States, United Kingdom, Mexico, Netherlands, Spain, New Zealand, Korea, and China, and with the berry season in full swing, there will be plenty of in-season berries for attendees to enjoy. However, Mr Eccles admits that it has been a tough season for raspberry and blackberry growers during summer.

"The summer season, which starts in November, started off pretty well then we got this horrendous hot weather," he said. "It was surprising how humid it was and that caused problems itself. There were also some very hot days of 40 degrees, which slows down the productivity of the plants. It doesn't seem to be over yet with the heat still hitting us this week."

It is not just the heat that has affected the berries, with diseases such as grey mould. Bugs such as myriads have been damaging fruit while trying to seek shelter from the heat in the crops. They also become contaminants in the punnets.

But the RABA Executive Officer says that the effects felt by these incidents are balanced out by an increase in production across the board.

"What we have seen is a slight reduction in the first grade quality fruit," Mr Eccles said. "Because the fruit comes on so quickly, if we get a few cool days, it bounces back fairly quickly. So it is not like we have any long term impact from those few hot days. Overall growers have kept up with quality due to the increase in production from previous years. Most crops are now grown undercover which helps protect from rain and thunderstorms."

Demand for raspberries and blackberries from Australian consumers continues to grow according to Mr Eccles. Blackberries in particular are undersupplied but new varieties will help to meet consumer demand.

"More consumers are seeing blackberries appear in the stores in areas where once they were never seen," he said "Consumers are always looking for something new. Consumer demand has been helped with raspberries now being seen on the shelves all year round - we have nearly 12 months of production, with the northern areas coming in in winter that complements the main summer period further south. The other thing driving demand is supermarkets putting raspberries and blackberries at the front of the produce store. There is also the health benefits and versatility of the berries as well".

BerryQuest International 2018 will be held at the Country Club Tasmania in Launceston from 12-15 February. For more information: 

Jonathan Eccles
Raspberries and Blackberries Australia
Phone: +61 407 242 757

Publication date: 1/31/2018
Author: Matthew Russell

Some WA Strawberry growers forecast average production despite TPP

The Western Australian strawberry season is on track to reach average production for some growers, despite the industry having to deal with diseases such as tomato potato psyllid.

"The 2017 harvest remained much the same as previous years, not much has really changed," Jamie Michael from grower/export company, Ti Produce Marketing said. "The current demand for Australian strawberries is good, again it is driven by consumer demand. Consumers will always purchase more if the quality is good and the price is right."

The state makes up around 11 per cent of Australia's strawberry production, with a lot of fruit being supplied to the domestic market.

"WA supplies Australia wide and exports into Oceania, Asia and the Middle East," Mr Michael said. "Our biggest destination would be the East Coast. The volume of WA strawberries shipped to this market is determined solely by supply and demand and the usual market forces as the strawberry industry is supply based."

Strawberry Growers Association of WA, Industry Development Officer, Aileen Reid says the southwest season is in full swing, including Albany, Mt Barker, Pemberton and Manjimup.

"A lot more plants went in – maybe 3-4 million off the back of two very good seasons," she said. "However the tomato potato psyllid outbreak meant that for the early part of the season no fruit could be exported interstate, as over 60 per cent of WA fruit goes east. Then for a while it was able to be exported after fumigation. It wrecks the fruit and many markets just didn’t want it. A protocol was developed allowing growers to export fruit after inspection which was a huge cost import and also meant big delays in some cases. Finally about the middle of August a training packaged was delivered which allowed growers to inspect their own fruit as part of that protocol.”

A report was released late last year, from the Western Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development showing the potential export opportunities for the state. It found the unit value of global strawberry imports grew by three per cent during the past ten years, showing the improvement in quality.

It also identified that, in most of the potential countries, the United States is the only competitor from July to September, which is the main export season for WA strawberries, and that gaining access to the Chinese market could be an avenue for growth down the track.

For more information:
Aileen Reid
Strawberry Growers Association of WA
Phone: +61 467 783 981

Publication date: 1/18/2018
Author: Matthew Russell

Optimism after a few tough years for Australian strawberry growers

After another difficult summer season for Australian strawberry growers, the industry is hoping that the recent fruit quality over winter and the production of new varieties will translate into better prices.

Strawberry Australia chairman John Calle says weather events and recent economic conditions for the industry have made it tough for some, but he is hoping that will change in the near future.

"Production comes and goes, at one stage we had a lot of flowers, and then nothing for a little while," Mr Calle said. "That transpired on the price of strawberries at the end of the day. The volumes would have been average (this summer season). In my case I have done my average, but a lot of growers haven't. But the industry in general is going strong, and still growing strawberries, and good quality strawberries at this stage of the season."

Australia has two production areas, the Southern areas which produce for the summer season, as well as Western Australia and Queensland that produce throughout the middle of the year. The winter strawberries hit the markets last month, and retail markets have reported high quality fruit, and good sizes, despite having their own weather problems throughout autumn.

"The cyclone that they had up there washed out a few growers - quite a few actually," he said. "Bundaberg did not do too bad across the area. The Sunshine Coast is coming on now, meaning there is going to be a lot of strawberries in the next month or so while the plants are producing lots of strawberries. That could be a bit of a problem because the rest of Australia is in winter, and not many people eat strawberries in winter, or not to the extent they do in summer."

He says there is a new variety being grown in Queensland, with around 8 to 10 million plants of the Red Rapsedy variety. Mr Calle says it could almost double the amount of plants in the coming year.

The Strawberry Australia Chairman, who has also had a farm in Victoria for 35 years, says he along with others have exported small volumes of the fruit in the past to UK, Europe, Singapore, Hong Kong and other countries, but at the moment it is not a financially viable option.

"We do need to export because the country produces for 12 months of the year now," he said. "The best state in the position to do it is Western Australia, and also Queensland, but the price is just not there. We get a better price on the local market."

The year round production has also meant less reliance on imports. Mr Calle says there previously was a two month window between seasons and fruit was imported from New Zealand, and USA but it is now not worth it, because the local producers grow enough strawberries domestically.

"At the end of the day, the consumer looks for taste aroma and looks, and the grower looks for volume and quality to make money," Mr Calle said. "As an industry, that's what we have to work towards."

For more information:
John Calle
Strawberries Australia
Phone: +61 417 538 535

Publication date: 7/4/2017
Author: Matthew Russell

Image: Pixabay_kheinz 

US strawberries to require import permit

AU import restrictions on certain goods to change this month
Importers in Australia have been advised of the Biosecurity (Prohibited and Conditionally Non-Prohibited Goods) Determination 2016 (Goods Determination) which is currently under amendment. As a result, from 30 June 2017 certain commodities will have different import conditions. Once implemented, imported goods into Australia must comply with the new legislation and read this notice.

Commodities that will now require an import permit
From 30 June 2017 fresh strawberries from the United States of America will require an import permit prior to the goods being imported into Australia.

Commodities that will not require an import permit
From 30 June 2017 selected commodities will no longer require an import permit when the alternative conditions in the Goods Determination are met. This includes:
Fresh grapes for human consumption from China
Fresh mango for human consumption from Vietnam and all regions of India
Fresh apricots and interspecific stone fruit hybrids for human consumption from the United States of America
Fresh Agrocybe cylindracea mushrooms for human consumption from all countries
Dried Trametes versicolor mushrooms for human consumption from all countries
Frozen Cantharellus cibarius and Craterellus cornucopioides mushrooms for human consumption from all countries
All goods entering Australia must continue to meet the import conditions published in BICON.

source: via

Publication date: 6/22/2017

Image: Pixabay_robertobarresi

Strawberry growers on Sunshine Coast diversify with 'ugly' fruit and boosting exports

In the competitive world of agribusiness, farmers need to maximise profits and reduce wastage. And for one Sunshine Coast strawberry growing company, that means increasing exports and making the most of markets for so-called 'ugly' fruit.

The teams working for Di West and her sister Jody Ciantar are picking up to 30 tonnes of strawberries a day from 25 hectares of fields under cultivation at Beerwah, on Queensland's Sunshine Coast.

Most of the fruit grown by Suncoast Harvest has traditionally been sold to Coles supermarkets but now there is a new market for so-called 'ugly' or imperfect strawberries that would once have been rejected.

"Aldi has opened up a bit of a market for 'all shapes and sizes', which are weird shapes and we get a lot of them," Ms West said. "This strawberry is perfectly good but it's not meeting specifications for the major chain stores because it doesn't have one tip and a perfect conical shape".

"You can't get mother nature to be perfect so we need an outlet for these things too because they're really large fruit, they're heavy weight and if we have to throw them out, that makes our cost of production that much higher. You know there's nothing wrong with them, they're just not quite beautiful in a perfect little conical shape. We might have 30 per cent of our fruit like that and we need to be able to sell it'. If we don't, that 70 per cent of perfect fruit has to perform that much better to make us viable, so we definitely need to have outlets for this type of fruit."

Exporting benefits all growers

In a deliberate business strategy for Suncoast Harvest, 20 to 30 per cent of their crop of is currently being sent overseas with existing exporters.

Ms West said export activity benefits all growers, whether they were directly involved or not, and is boosted by the low Australian dollar.

"We use a couple of different exporters and we've been exporting all season to New Zealand," Ms West said.

"We've just sent some to Malaysia and Singapore [and we are] hoping to go to the Middle East as well.

"Every pallet of fruit not on the market at the moment means the price in Australia is that little bit more buoyant.

 "Last year the dollar dropped to a point where it became viable for them to use Australian markets for those strawberries that normally would come from California or somewhere.

"That opened up opportunities which really helped us financially [and] this year we went into the season hoping to expand that a lot more, and we have.

"If the dollar stays down where it is, or even a little bit lower, it's great for the industry because we grow a lot of strawberries at this time of year and if we can access those markets, it's great for everyone."

Suncoast Harvest is exporting the Fortuna and Festival varieties of strawberries, which the company also sells in Australia.

"They travel well, they're nice and sweet, they look attractive [and] have a pretty uniform shape," Ms West said.

Challenges in meeting export standards

But she admitted there had been challenges in meeting export standards especially regarding crop hygiene and weed control.

"Our export paddocks have to be completely weed-free so that adds a little bit of extra cost," she said.

She said last year, "one little weed seed" ended their season after a shipment to New Zealand was knocked back although she said Asia markets did not have such strict protocols.

"It was something new to us [that] we didn't realise; we thought 'okay, next year we'll make sure we stay on top of those weeds', so we've spent a lot more money this year making sure that we do that," Ms West said.

We see great potential in exports and as long as the dollar stays down where it's viable, I don't see why we can't explore sending even greater quantities, up to 50 per cent of our crop."

Ms West is ahead of the field on exports, according to Jennifer Rowling, industry development officer for Queensland Strawberries.

"The cost of labour in Australia ... it's very difficult to compete with the likes of the US or other countries where labour is minimal compared to what we pay here," Ms Rowling said.

"So it's been difficult to get export markets, but the industry is planning on reinvestigating the opportunities in certain areas."

Article source:

Author: By Jennifer Nichols, ABC Rural

Photo: Di West is exporting to New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore. (ABC Rural: Jennifer Nichols)

Queensland strawberries shine in Asia

Delegation takes in 17 retail outlets across two key markets, as it looks to grow a presence for its offering.

A delegation of Queensland strawberry growers and industry representatives recently returned from Hong Kong and Indonesia.

The delegation visited 17 different retail outlets, from high-end supermarket chains such as Great Food Hall in Hong Kong and Ranch Market in Jakarta, right through to suburban wet markets and local street stores.

While encouraged by the opportunity they saw to ship fruit into these markets, the delegates also gained an impression of the competitive environment they are entering.

“Hong Kong is a very competitive market with strawberries from the US available in every market type,” said Luigi Coco, chairman of the Queensland Strawberry Growers Association and a strawberry grower from Elimbah. “US strawberries are also available in Jakarta with locally-grown Indonesia strawberries also available.”

The delegation coincided with a number of trials involving Queensland strawberry exports.

Coco, from A&E Coco and Sons, Charmaine Davey from Berry Patch Marketing, and Brendon and Ashleigh Hoyle from Ashbern Farms all collaborated to trial shipments to both Hong Kong and Jakarta.

“Within 24 hours of picking the strawberries on our farm, they can arrive at the importer's distribution centre in Hong Kong” said Brendon Hoyle. “The Hong Kong cold chain is very sophisticated and strong relationships between these businesses and the retail and food service industry has been established”.

The supply chain to Jakarta is slightly more complex than Hong Kong, with no direct flights from Brisbane currently available. There is also a requirement for pest treatment.

Despite these challenges, Queensland strawberries were exported and available for purchase by consumers.

“It was a highlight seeing strawberries from our farm being sold and purchased in Ranch Market in Jakarta,” said Davey. “The colour and size of the Queensland-bred strawberry varieties, including Red Rhapsody, are very attractive to the consumer.”

Jennifer Rowling, the development officer for Queensland Strawberry Growers, and Clinton McGrath and Bronwyn Ford, both from the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, were also part of the delegation.

The travel was part of a project funded by the Queensland government’s Growing Queensland Food Exports programme, which was also supported by the Queensland Strawberry Growers Association.


Author: Matthew Jones

South Korean strawberry exports to Australia to begin this year

South Korean farmers will be able to export fresh strawberries to Australia starting this year, as the two nations have agreed on quarantine protocols, the agriculture ministry said Thursday.

In 2008, South Korea requested that Australia give it access to its market for fresh strawberries, and the two sides have carried out talks on quarantine standards and other issues since 2014.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said it will prepare follow-up measures on fruit exports and notify local farms next month.

The country's peak strawberry production period runs from January to March and most of the produce is grown in greenhouses.

Source: via 

Publication date: 10/19/2017