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Citrus Australia: Harsher penalties for people who threaten industry

Industry organisation Citrus Australia has stated it is extremely disappointed at the ‘slap on the wrist’ issued to an Australian resident who attempted to smuggle infected budwood into the country. The perpetrator was fined $7,000 for importing the prohibited item and providing false and misleading information to Customs officers. The citrus plant cutting tested positive to two viruses that could cause diseases in citrus and also contained insects.

CEO Nathan Hancock has expressed his sincere thanks to the customs officer who found the cutting but said it was disappointing the judge did not take the opportunity to issue a severe penalty as a warning to others.

“A fine of $7,000 for importing a prohibited item and providing false and misleading information to Customs officers is grossly inadequate when you consider the economic damage that could have occurred,” Hancock said. “The citrus industry, working with Government departments and other bodies, is currently working to eradicate the exotic disease citrus canker from the Northern Territory and northern Western Australia. Whilst confident we will achieve our goal, the cost to eradicate this could be in the tens of millions of dollars and has severely disrupted several growers’ lives in Kununurra and areas around Darwin.”

Hancock said deliberate acts like this put the livelihoods of thousands of Australians working in rural and regional Australia at risk, and could decimate the $800 million dollar citrus industry. Australians who now fail to declare plant or animal matter can receive fines up to $63,000 and up to five years in jail.

According to citrusaustralia.com.au, Hancock has asked judges in future cases to consider the impact imported pests and disease would have on the Australian horticulture industry and set an example through far tougher penalties in the future.

Source: www.freshplaza.com 

Seeka's kiwifruit harvest in full swing

Seeka's kiwifruit harvest is in full swing across both New Zealand and Australia with the company cautiously assessing the effect of the dry summer with both countries experiencing hot dry conditions. Rainfall in New Zealand was unseasonably low through the first quarter, and in Australia, Shepparton was in drought conditions with temperatures regularly above 40 degrees.

Generally, harvest 2019 began early attributed to dry late summer conditions. In New Zealand; the SunGold harvest is nearing completion with Seeka over 96% packed. Attention is now focusing on Hayward.

In the case of Hayward, Seeka has processed approximately 30% of its crop. Yields from early orchards were below estimate and the company is watching the next phase of the harvest to ascertain full year crop volume.

Seeka has significantly refurbished its Oakside site including a significant machine upgrade, and had constructed a new packhouse and packing machine at its newly acquired Kerikeri site. Both machines have commissioned well and hit their targeted volumes.

The company also purchased the business of Aongatete Coolstores Limited just prior to the season adding between 4m and 4.5m trays of supply to the group. The Aongatete purchase included experienced staff supported by loyal growers.

Safety through the early part of the season had been a particular focus for Seeka as part of its sustainability drive. The SunGold crop which is increasing in volume puts pressure on labour numbers for a short period. A labour shortage has been declared, and has resulted in some easing of the shortage, but some shifts remain difficult to fully resource. Adding to this pressure, the structure of the early season meant that post-harvest operators worked long hours to achieve premiums for their growers in achieving payment deadlines. Seeka has advocated changes to the structure to deliver a better safety profile.

Seeka has completed the harvest of its Red variety which was successfully picked, packed and exported to Australia. The spectacular fruit has a striking red central star burst on a golden background and with its sweet, berry flavour which has been well received by consumers.

The harvest of Seeka's green kiwifruit grown in Australia is also underway for the domestic and export markets. The team has worked well under dry conditions to produce a great quality crop.

Given the early start, the season is expected to finish in late May. Seeka is satisfied with the service delivered to our growers to date and the fruit's quality and performance to the market. It looks forward to continuing a safe and successful 2019 kiwifruit harvest.

For more information:
Kim McFadden


Source: www.freshplaza.com 

Australian grapes grow in Korea

Export volumes of Australian table grapes have nearly quadrupled to Korea following tariff-free access.

In 2018 the Taste Australia campaign was brought to Korea to introduce Australia's premium grapes to Korean consumers.

Initially, the campaign was run and grapes stocked exclusively, at Hyundai Department Stores, but this year export volumes have increased and Korean retailers Emart and Shinsegae Department Store have joined Hyundai as stockists.

Grapes can be purchased at all Emart outlets, and selected Hyundai and Shinsegae stores, as well as a number of franchise fruit shops and wholesale markets. Samples of table grapes were handed out between 28 March and 14 April to consumers in-store covering a range of different varieties.

In 2018 the import duty for Australian table grapes was also eliminated under the Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement.

Australia’s table grape export season runs from January to May, and in the year ending June 2018, export volumes to Korea had almost quadrupled, up 379 per cent; albeit, from a small base, and in line with eliminations of the tariff, which reduced from 45 per cent to 6 per cent in 2017.

Since 2017, Australian table grapes have been promoted in the Korean market under a new brand name, Tams Gold. The name is a combination of the word ‘tams-rudba’, which Austrade says translates to ‘attractive, nice, ripe and delicious looking’, and the word gold which symbolises the golden/green colour of grapes.

At the time of the re-brand, Australian ambassador to Korea, James Choi, said the aim of the branding was to help assist Korean importers to satisfy the demand for quality grapes in Korea.

Joon Choi of major importer Soo Il Commerce said in mid-March he was gearing up for an aggressive approach toward grape promotions and has noted growth in the category due to increased volumes from the US.

Choi also said a range of new grape varieties entering Korea has peaked consumer interest.

This article was originally published in the June 2019 edition of Asiafruit Magazine


Author: Camellia Aebischer

Outperforming our competitors crucial for vegetable industry

Maintaining and expanding our export market access is crucial for the ongoing growth of Australia’s vegetable and potato export industry, according to peak industry body AUSVEG.

Vegetable export volume has risen more than 15 per cent last year due to strong growth from Singapore, Japan and Thailand, with carrots being the strongest export performer at 113,000 tonnes and increasing in value by 5.1 per cent to $98 million in export value.
But AUSVEG National Manager – Export Development Michael Coote said there is still plenty of room for vegetable and potato exports to grow.

“With improved prioritisation of Australian vegetable products in trade negotiations, our industry can continue to reach new heights,” Mr Coote said. “Australia has built a strong reputation as a quality exporter of fresh produce but it must continue to gain access to more markets so our growers can continue to benefit.”

Mr Coote said improving access for vegetables to markets such as Japan and Korea, while increasing volumes to existing markets across Asia and the Middle East would also pay dividends for vegetable growers around the country.

“New and emerging markets are essential to the survival of our domestic vegetable industry,” he said.

Supply chain costs continue to increase following government policy changes, such as through the recent implementation of security screening requirements for all international air-freight cargo. AUSVEG has asked government to place greater prioritisation of horticulture products in trade negotiations and to also implement an industry/government committee which oversees whole-of-government regulatory cost increases.

“Australia is in a competitive global environment and it must be able to provide quality fresh produce at an affordable price,” Mr Coote said.
“So any potential cost increases which can flow back to the grower can severely impact their global competitiveness and profitability. That is why an industry/government-led committee to oversee any regulatory costs would be beneficial.”

AUSVEG’s 2019 Federal Election priorities can be viewed at: https://ausveg.com.au/sprout-growing-a-better-future/

Source: www.freshplaza.com 

Indian mango exports - Mango consignments leaving for US & Australia

As Alphonso mangoes are in great demand in many markets abroad, they form a substantial chunk of India’s export basket. The mango export season has started in Maharashtra, with 28 tons of the fruit leaving for American and Australian shores.

Officers of the Maharashtra State Agricultural Marketing Board (MSAMB) said they are aiming for a 15-20 per cent increase compared to last year’s exports. This year, Board officials have set a target of 800 tons of exports for US markets.

MSAMB officials said the 28 tons of mangoes, meant for American and Australian markets, have been treated in an irradiation facility in Vashi. Similarly, 7.5 tons of mangoes for Russian and New Zealand markets have received the vapour heat treatment.

In order to facilitate exports, the MSAMB recently organised two workshops in Konkan for farmers, as well as for buyers and sellers. Workshops were also conducted on how to produce export-quality fruits.

Source: indianexpress.com via www.freshplaza.com 

AHEIA pleased that government focus has turned to horticulture exports

The Australian Horticulture Exporter's and Importers' Association has welcomed the Federal Coalition Government's multi-million-dollar commitment to growing horticulture exports, provided in this month's budget.

A total of $29.4 million worth of measures were announced, to target agricultural sectors with high export growth potential. Exact details are still vague, given the Federal Government went into caretaker mode soon after the budget was released, due to the pending election on May 18. The AHEIA says this is the first time it can remember focus being placed on horticulture exports.

"It's great to see horticulture is taking the spotlight on the agriculture trade agenda because it is an incredibly positive story for the Australian economy," CEO Dominic Jenkin said. "It hasn't attracted as much attention (in the past) so it was great to see that as the centrepiece of agriculture trade announcements. Furthermore, the focus on gaining additional market access and improving the conditions for trade into our major markets. However, there is precious little detail in the statement, so time will tell where the investments go, and the quality of those investments."

One of the major commitments was to provide $11.4 million over four years to break through the technical and scientific trade barriers so Australian fruit and vegetables can get market access into more countries. The AHEIA welcomes any way to streamline that process.

“Horticultural trade is often limited by sanitary and phytosanitary measures,” Mr Jenkin said. “This can occur as either delays in the assessment and establishment of appropriate measures, or the imposition of impractical measures. Investment in improving horticultural market access and trade should promote greater transparency and understanding in the application of phytosanitary measures. This would include timely approval of market access applications and to promptly and transparently conduct risk assessments when required. Attention should be paid to improving the technical dialogue with our trading partners to ensure the most practicable solutions are selected and implemented."

He added that the problem with that is that is that while the process is intended to be purely scientific, it can often become political, in terms of "the way that it is drafted, the timeliness, and whom they engage to draft it".

"Market access is an inherently political process, and trade in every sense is reciprocal," he said. "We will need to have a hard look at access and conditions that we impose upon exporters to our market, and our operational practices to support that trade. So, I think it is relational, so I think we need to be spending money to improve the relationship with our most important trading partners. We have been challenged by our broader government perspectives, in terms of our relationships with our more important trading partners. It's important that we move to improve those, and show real value to our trading partners, show we care about what they are interested in and compromise to find mutual benefits, rather than engage in confrontational approaches."

Mr Jenkin would also like to see a greater focus on improving relationships with trading partners, which can sometimes involve delicate political negotiations.

"Relationships are rarely maintained through the pragmatic argument of facts, but rather deep understanding," he said. "If we know only our own needs and we ignore the needs of our trading partners we cannot expect relationships to prosper. We must look deeply in order to identify and understand the needs, aspirations and adversities they encounter. This is the groundwork required for relationships to prosper."

The Federal Government stated that only 18 per cent of horticulture production was exported, meaning that there is huge potential for growth. The industry is currently taking a diverse approach, supplying to around 30 countries. However, one of the most important areas for growth in recent years has of course been China.

The AHEIA says one of the eventual key winners of this investment will be regional communities.

"At the end of the day, it is all flowing back to the farms and our regional communities," Mr Jenkin said. "In horticulture, up to 50 per cent of the cost of production is the labour component. Whilst it is a huge problem in terms of accessing this labour, it is also a positive for the communities that support those populations. It is extremely positive to see the investment in this area, and we would certainly welcome engagement with any government around the world in improving horticulture trade. Trade also means importing products as well, and we see maintaining that balance is vital in maintaining our status in our most important markets."

For more information
Dominic Jenkin
Australian Horticulture Exporter's and Importers' Association
Phone: +61 423 394 476

Publication date: 4/17/2019
Author: matthew@freshplaza.com
© FreshPlaza.com

Vietnam: CPTPP should help to export more to Australia

Nguyen Thi Thu Trang, Director of the WTO Integration Centre of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), stated that Vietnamese enterprises need to take advantage of tariff reductions under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) to increase exports to Australia.

Australia is one of the 20 largest economies in the world, with outstanding potential in science and technology, mineral exploitation, high-quality services and agricultural products. Australia is also a market with high purchasing power and stability. Vietnam and Australia are both members of CPTPP, which will help promote trade and expand the scale of investment and cooperation between the two sides in the future.

Although each side had its own potential, strengths and a variety of commodities, the value of Vietnam's exports to Australia was still modest. Vietnam could also strengthen cooperation with Australia by increasing imports, including technologies that Australia has advantages in as well as consultation services.

When exporting to Australia, Vietnamese enterprises needed to understand the market trend, consumer tastes and regulations on food safety and origins to meet the requirements of importers, said Phung Thi Lan Phuong, head of the FTA Division of the WTO and Integration Centre of the VCCI.

According to sggpnews.org.vn¸ Dinh Thi My Loan, Chairwoman of the Vietnam Retailers Association, stressed the strong competition in the import and retail areas in Australia, while suggesting Vietnamese firms building long-term business strategies which focus on product introduction and branding, trust creation and relationships to approach Australia's retail system.

The quality of goods is still inadequate compared to competitors such as China, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. Loan said that in order to stand firm in the Australian market, Vietnamese enterprises must regard quality as the top priority rather than focusing on quantity and price.

Publication date: 4/15/2019

Source: https://www.freshplaza.com 

Indonesia tastes Australian grapes

Promotional tasting events held across Indonesia in line with increased volumes due to new varieties
This year, Indonesia will enjoy a 20 per cent increase in volume of Australian table grapes on the market.

The island-nation exported more than 15,000 tonnes of grapes in 2018 and is expecting to increase on that number in 2019. New varieties coming into maturity are cited for the increase in volumes, as well as favourable growing conditions producing a quality yield.

Australia exports a wide range of seed and seedless varieties of grapes to Indonesia including Red Globe, Crimson Seedless, Thompson Seedless, Autumn Royal, Moondrop and Midnight Beauty.

Promotional events held across Indonesian retailers by marketing board Taste Australia, tout Australian table grapes for their nutritional value and convenience.

Tasting events will be held throughout April at participating supermarkets including FoodHall, LionSuperindo, Aeon, Frestive, Carrefour and Hypermart.

Hort Innovation trade lead, Dianne Phan, said the short shipping times between Australia and Indonesia meant Aussie grapes were able to get into the Indonesian market quickly and in top condition.

“Australia has an excellent reputation as a supplier of nutritious and high-quality fresh fruit. Our unique, pristine environment makes it the ideal place to grow fresh produce,” she said.

“We are delighted to be able to provide a range of fresh grapes direct from our vineyards to customers in Indonesia.”



Author: Camellia Aebischer 

Australian veggie exports jump in 2018

Australian fresh vegetable exports rose by 11.4% last year with Singapore retaining its spot as the leading market, while high growth rates were seen for potatoes, onions, broccoli and cauliflower.

The results were released by industry body Ausveg, whose national manager for export development Michael Coote said progress was testament to the hard work of growers who have persevered with the export process.

“The Australian vegetable industry is continuing to experience solid growth in its exports, particularly on the back of strong performing products such as carrots, potatoes and broccoli/cauliflower to different high-value Asian markets,” Coote said.

With the AUD281 million (US$199.5 million) result, the industry only needs another 12% push over two years to hit its 2020 target of AUD315 million (US$223.7 million).

The growth in volume was faster at 15.5% to reach 227,000 metric tons (MT), of which carrots accounted for almost half.

Singapore was the leading market with Australian fresh vegetable imports worth AUD50 million (US$35.5 million), followed by Japan, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Thailand; the latter notably provided a 54% uptick to AUD7.8 million (US$5.5 million).

The broccoli/cauliflower category was the biggest riser with growth of 24% in value to AUD22.5 million (US$16 million) and volume growth of 33.5% to 8,500MT.

Coote added the positive outcome was also the result of Ausveg and the wider industry providing opportunities for growers to increase their capability and opportunities to enter export markets.

“The Vegetable Industry Export Program, which is delivered by AUSVEG in partnership with Hort Innovation, continues to support the solid growth in fresh vegetable exports,” Coote said.

“In 2018, the program facilitated the development of export capabilities for the industry by bringing 40 buyers into Australia to see local production, taking over 40 growers on outbound trade missions, and up-skilling another 40 growers through export readiness training.

“The continued rise in the value of vegetable exports is particularly impressive when you consider that Australian vegetables are typically lower-priced products that are being grown in a high-cost environment, due to the rising costs of labour, electricity and water.”

Coote noted growers were also subject to the effects of fluctuating exchange rates, but nonetheless exports have continued to build.

“The industry is well on its way to reach the ambitious target of AUD$315 million in fresh vegetable exports by 2020 as outlined by the industry’s export strategy,” he said.

“We are working with growers to ensure they have the skills and knowhow to improve their ability to export their produce and capitalise on increasing demand for fresh, Australian-grown vegetable produce.”

Source: Fresh Fruit Portal

Australian vegetable export data shows strong growth

Australian vegetable exports rose by more than 15 percent last year, mainly due to strong international demand. Back home though, retailers and consumers are reporting higher prices than normal for vegetables at the store level.

The export figures, recently released by Ausveg, show fresh vegetable exports grew to $281 million in 2018 on the back of healthy growth in key export markets in Singapore (7.5% value growth), Japan (8.7% value growth) and Thailand (54% value growth).

The total volume of Australian fresh vegetable exports increased 15.5% to 227,000 tons, with increases across most major markets, again including Singapore, Japan and Thailand.

Carrots remained the strongest export performer in 2018 at 113,000 tons, increasing in value by 5.1% to $98m. Some other key vegetable exports included potatoes, onions, celery, broccoli and cauliflower, which all increased in value and volume in 2018.

Ausveg national manager - export development, Michael Coote, said the organisation's Vegetable Industry Export Program, in partnership with Hort Innovation, continues to support the solid growth in fresh vegetable exports.

Coote said the vegetable industry was well on its way to reaching the target of $315m in fresh vegetable exports by 2020 as outlined by the industry's export strategy.

Source: queenslandcountrylife.com.au via www.freshplaza.com 

BGP restructures management - Prudence Barker takes over as CEO

Prudence Barker takes over as CEO of Australia-based trader, as MD Neil Barker steps up focus on expanding supply for customers in Asia
Leading Melbourne-based fresh produce trading company BGP International has announced management changes in response to strong growth over the past three years.

Expansion in BGP’s citrus and table grape volumes, which the company markets for packers in Australia, Egypt, South Africa, Pakistan, Turkey and the US, has prompted managing director Neil Barker to appoint his daughter Prudence Barker as CEO.

“Prudence is taking on the CEO role, and this will provide me with more time to build and expand our supply programmes for our extensive Asian client base,” explained Neil Barker.

With degrees in law and commerce, Prudence joined BGP International eight years ago after working as a senior consultant for Ernst Young. She has primarily been responsible for BGP's import programmes into Australia.

“Prudence brings a wealth of experience to the CEO role and has the skill set and ability to guide the further development of the business,” said Neil.

BGP International now employs 21 people spread over five countries, and handles over 2,000 containers of fruit annually, servicing over 200 clients, he noted.

“I am confident that my appointment establishes a stable management team for future growth in the business,” said Prudence. “I am looking forward to personally meeting all our suppliers and clients over the next year to further discuss their requirements.”

Neil will remain managing director with direct involvement in the various marketing programmes currently underway for BGP. “Both our packers and clients are extremely important, and I am sure the changes will enable us to continue to improve our service and value to them,” he said.

BGP’s sales team remains unchanged, with managing director Neil Barker, Asia trade manager Cindy Teoh, and export sales manager Patrick McGreesh.


Source: http://www.fruitnet.com/asiafruit Author: John Hey

Federal Budget 2019-20: New initiatives for horticultural sector

Australia’s horticultural production is valued at over $12.0 billion and employs 50,000 rural and regional Australians. Horticulture exports were valued at over $2.2 billion in 2016-17.

See below the new initiatives that were announced in the Federal Budget 2019-20. It is good to see the horticultural sector receiving some overdue attention by the Federal Government.

Enhancing Australia’s Agricultural Trade
The Government will invest $29.4 million over four years, commencing in 2019-20, in a further package of measures that will continue to strengthen Australia’s agricultural export trade.

The package comprises:
• $11.4 million over four years to support the further development of an internationally competitive and profitable horticulture sector by continuing work on horticulture market access and improving access to plant genetics and propagative material for Australian growers to promote competitiveness and sustainability;
• $6.8 million to continue the Agricultural Trade and Market Access Cooperation (ATMAC) program from the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper for a further four years from 2019-20. ATMAC has successfully funded industry for cooperation projects that break down technical barriers to trade for exports;
• $6.1 million to extend the Package Assisting Small Exporters to 2020 to assist eligible small exporters to improve their market access. This funding builds on the Government’s 2013 election commitment that provided $15.0 million over four years for projects to improve market access for small exporters.
• $5.1 million over four years to work with industry and importing countries to minimise the impact of non-tariff measures (NTMs) that can act as a barrier to achieving market access into some high-value export markets. The measure will also deliver up to 11 sector-specific reports to identify and prioritise NTMs that restrict market access or form barriers to the export trade.

Australia’s Indo-Pacific Engagement—Enhanced Engagement in Asia
The Government is investing $9.5 million over four years, starting in 2019-20, to strengthen cooperation between Australia and China on agricultural trade and food safety regulation. This work will support Australian farmers and deepen Australia’s long-term engagement with our largest market for agricultural, food, fisheries and forestry exports.

This program is part of a broader package of initiatives, led by the Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio, to strengthen Australia’s economic and cultural engagement in the Indo-Pacific region, including with China.

National Agricultural Workforce Strategy
The Government will invest $1.9 million over four years, beginning in 2019-20, to develop a National Agricultural Workforce Strategy.

National Leadership for Agricultural Innovation
The Government is committing $2.9 million over three years, starting in 2019-20, to establish an advisory panel to drive national leadership of agricultural innovation and to better promote transformational, cross-commodity research and development to boost productivity and support long-term jobs in the agriculture sector.

However, it is not all good news.
Horticultural importers will likely be further impacted by poor and worsening levels of services for imports as the budget announces a 5 % reduction in average staffing levels.

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources are set to collect over $399 Million in 2019-20 (up to $415 Million in 2022-23) for the provision of quarantine, inspection and certification services for passengers, cargo, mail, animals, plants, and animal or plant products arriving in Australia; and agricultural products exported from Australia. Despite significant increases in the volume, complexity and biosecurity risk of inbound trade the Federal Budget has made not provision for an expansion of the workforce (staff available for this task).

Demand for import inspections on-shore for fresh produce are set to increase 5-fold with the removal of the offshore preclearance inspection program, and limitations of DAWRs service delivery will be further compounded by the increased workload presented by the expansion of BMSB seasonal measures that will increase the surveillance task by approximately 15% in 2019-20.
As the unwilling provider of vital trade services, DAWR believe that IT solutions will be the solution to all of their problems and have announced significant further investments in this area. This is of little direct benefit to those who remain on the phone day in, day out trying to secure inspections for imported produce.

AHEIA continues to work with our major trading partners to advocate for the restoration of the offshore preclearance programme.

More budget news from www.freshplaza.com : Click here