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Delay concerns over piece-level inspection

Produce industry concerned about wait times when security screening is implemented in Australia for all exports
Fresh produce will undergo compulsory security screening via x-ray or metal detector from 1 March if it arrives at airports without prior security clearance.

In the short term, scheduling is a concern for the industry whose perishable air cargo could suffer from time delays. It’s not just fruit and vegetables that will need to meet the requirement, but all Australian exported air cargo regardless of article or destination.

Growers and traders can choose to either register as a ‘Known Consignor’, meaning they must meet certain security protocols to bypass airport screening at the take-off point or have goods screened by a Registered Air Cargo Agent (RACA).

However, both Dominic Jenkin, CEO of the Australian Horticulture Exporters’ and Importers’ Association (AHEIA) and a representative from a global airline told Fruitnet that around two weeks out from the implementation date there are only a handful of RACAs on the list.

The aforementioned airline representative said the 1 March implementation date will be interesting to watch as it falls on a Friday which is a typical peak period for the week.

“The most concerning impact in the short run is excessive wait times at the terminal operators, leading to shipments missing their planned flights as the shipments which are not from RACA or known consignors will [need to] be pre-screened,” he said.

“Our terminal operator has published an additional 3 hours in lodge-in times but a lot of us are anticipating a longer lead time would be required.”

Jenkin predicted a 24-hour delay at terminals, while Australian aircraft service group, Menzies Aviation cite an additional six-hour allowance for the new screening process.


Source: http://www.fruitnet.com/asiafruit

Author: Camellia Aebischer

Philippine bananas eyeing Australia

Asian nation hopes to gain access soon and diversify exports as global competition with South America tightens.

Once the primary concern of black sigatoka disease is addressed, Manila is hopeful it will gain access to Australia for Philippine bananas.

In a bid to diversify its export portfolio amid growing pressure from South American banana suppliers, the country is exploring new markets for its major export commodity.

Later this month, the Bureau of the Plant Industry and the Philippine Banana Growers and Exporters Association (BPGEA) will submit technical documents to Canberra covering comprehensive Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures.

Stephen Antig, president of the BPGEA said Australia is likely to be a small market, considering it has banana plantations and its own banana export programmes. However, he noted that Philippine bananas can maintain a competitive advantage in price point as they are cheaper than locally-grown Australian bananas.

Business Mirror reported that in late November, the Philippines and Australia held a round of agricultural talks in Canberra focusing on SPS concerns. In that meeting, a six-month timeframe was set for Australia to evaluate documents and decide on if it would pass Manila’s SPS and quarantine standards.

Agriculture undersecretary Ariel Cayanan said the Philippines is optimistic it would overcome SPS concerns set by Australia.

He said the industry has a very early response to sigatoka, destroying a plant upon detection at its roots, before the disease can spread further. “If we see something wrong with the roots, we address it immediately and the plant will not grow anymore.”

According to a report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, in 2018 the Philippines regained its place as the second-largest global supplier of bananas, with Ecuador in the lead.

Source: http://www.fruitnet.com/asiafruit Author: Camellia Aebischer

Many of Australia's flowers are imported, but that may be about to change

Australia has been importing fresh-cut flowers for 45 years, but those working in the industry say there is little regulation, no country of origin labelling laws and an ever-present biosecurity risk.

About $67 million worth of flowers land on our shores every year from places as far away as Ecuador, Kenya and Singapore.

Imports kicked up a notch about 10 to 15 years ago and that saw some Australian growers leave the industry, while others learnt to adapt.

Now more change is afoot, as the Government steps up its biosecurity measures on cut flower and foliage imports.

It could be the leg-up local growers have been waiting for.

Last year, the Federal Government announced an increase to biosecurity measures after a 2017 review found less than half of imported flowers complied with environmental safeguards.
The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources said cut flowers now need to be fumigated in their country of origin before they are sent here, or undergo an alternative pest control system approved by a National Plant Protection Organisation.

That extra safeguard, in addition to existing biosecurity measures when flowers arrive here, mean costs are heading higher for importers. It is also impacting the shelf life of flowers, which already take about a week to arrive on the florist floor in Australia after being cut off the plant in a country like Colombia.

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is now assessing the impact of the changes on the sector.

The importers

Flowers are a family game. Harry Papadopoulos has been in the wholesale flower business for more than 30 years. His sons are now working alongside him. About 70 per cent of the flowers Harry's Wholesale Nursery sells to retailers are imported.

"What we import are only the flowers that our clients demand and that aren't available here, locally or interstate in Australia," said Mr Papadopoulos.

"The guys who do the big events need the flowers and we can't grow enough here."

Good climatic conditions mean roses from South America and Kenya are highly sought after by florists because they have a big flower size, long stems and a good shelf life.

Harry's son Steven said while Australian flowers were good quality, they just could not compete with roses from Ecuador and Colombia.

"Our main line is South American roses and their variety range is almost endless and the quality is very high. They produce all year round. So you can get the same exact flower every day of the year."

He said the biosecurity changes were unnecessary.

"We've been doing the right procedure for years. Let's say you do bring something in and there might be a bug that they're not happy with, it gets fumigated, the bug dies and you move on.

"It's been working so well for Australia so far in the flower industry as far as I know. I don't know why they're doing this really strict change."

Lower labour costs mean imported roses are cheaper to produce in their country of origin, but add freight and quarantine costs to the equation and consumers here will often end up paying more for them than locally grown roses.

In Western Australia, native flowers like Geraldton wax are being grown to export around the world.

West Australian native flower, Geraldton wax.

Craig Musson's company is one of the biggest importers and exporters of cut flowers in Australia. In addition to operations in Perth and Sydney, his company WAFEX has permanent offices in Ecuador, Kenya and the USA.

Mr Musson said the increased biosecurity regulations were already having an impact.

"We are scrambling as an industry. We support what quarantine is trying to achieve but we are seeking better consultation."

Mr Musson said shipments were now taking up to two days to clear.

"It's no different to fruit and vegetables. We want product all year round now. So we need roses all the way through winter when local production is down. We need lots of red roses at Valentine's Day and we need lots of chrysanthemums at Mother's Day."

The growers

Second generation rose grower Matthew Scarfone joined his dad in running Sunsethills Roses about three years ago. They sell a mix of their own flowers, as well as imported roses. But that has not always been the case.

Matthew Scarfone said his family business is now focusing on growing their own roses. "No-one really wanted local roses a few years ago, so we got out of it and went nearly 100 per cent imported," he explained.

It was a big change for their operations at Horsley Park, less than an hour's drive west of Sydney's CBD.

"Our whole farm was roses, the whole thing, and we couldn't sell them. Not for a profitable margin anyway. So we didn't grow them for about five years. We went to bits and pieces, seasonal stuff like stock and dahlias."

Mr Scarfone said the biosecurity changes meant imported flowers were now being fumigated twice, and in some cases three times, before they he could sell them.

"It's damaging the product. They're worried about all the insects and that. So now they're fumigating over there, which they never used to do," he said.

"Before, sometimes, you could get [roses] through without any fumigation at all. Those would last. You could get two weeks out of them. Now, you would struggle to get a week."

The family business is now focusing again on growing their own roses.

"Everyone wants the blown-open sort of look and you can't get that with the imported flowers. So we went and put not the whole farm, but we've done a section and that went well. Now we'll do more as the seasons go."

Joe Nati produces fragrant, fresh-cut blooms in north-west Sydney with his two brothers in their family business Nati Roses.

"A lot of our roses are the old-fashioned roses," he said.

Mr Nati said in the early years the quality of imported roses was not that great, but as they improved they were prized by many florists.

"Things have changed in the last 10 to 15 years with the introduction of a lot of roses being grown in Kenya in particular, as well as Ecuador," he explained.

"They are grown very well, so we're up against a quality product. It's getting to be that they are getting more expensive."

Mr Nati said he hoped the rising cost of imported roses would be good news for his business, but he — along with other local growers — also want a country of origin labelling system brought in.

"There are no labelling laws. Unless you're in the industry it would be hard to tell. We advertise our flowers as fresh local roses.

"Customers know what they're getting and they know they what they're buying on a Saturday has more than likely being picked on Friday so it's likely to last."

The department said it was not currently considering country of origin labelling for imported cut flowers and foliage.

The florists
Bernard Pollack was born into floristry and now runs the 50-year-old family business in Sydney with his sister.

Bernard Pollack said coexistence was necessary. He said local and imported flowers were better at different times of the year, depending on the season.

He said the industry would not survive if they did not co-exist.

"If we just relied on the local ones it wouldn't be enough. We wouldn't be able to satisfy the needs of our customers," he explained.

"If they stopped imports, lots of florists would close down, customers wouldn't be able to get what they want and people would lose their jobs. People would lose their houses over it. There would be grave ramifications."

Perth-based florist Matthew Landers echoed the need for both local and imported flowers to meet customer demand.

"The power of social media has not only changed the mentality of the florist but most definitely the consumer," he said.

"Clients are saying, 'I want this flower' and we look at it and go, 'Oh yeah peonies, they're only in season in Australia from November to December'. But we can import them for four months of the year from April to July from Holland."

The flower industry has to let the Government know what they think of the changes before the department releases its final report.

Source: ABC News. Author: Rachel Pupazzoni

How Northern Territory mangoes went from luxury item to household staple

It's the taste of summer: juice dripping down your chin and a tropical aroma overwhelming your senses.

Many of us just can't get enough of Australian mangoes.

This season, 10 million trays were packed from the tropics of northern Australia and sent to markets in southern Australia or exported overseas.

Not long ago, the same fruit was considered a luxury.

So how have mango growers turned their product into a summer essential?

The avocado effect
In recent years, the mango industry has achieved success similar to avocado growers, who managed to change consumer opinions of the fruit from a luxury to a household staple.

Seventy-six per cent of the population now buy mangoes, compared to 66 per cent in 2014, according to data from the Australian Mango Industry Association (AMIA).

The Northern Territory is now not only the largest grower of mangoes in the country, but also a consumer favourite.

AMIA CEO Robert Gray said over time, Australians had changed how and when they used the popular fruit.

"We know that simply slicing, dicing and demolishing the delicious king of fruits is still one of the most popular ways that consumers are enjoying their mangoes," he said.

"We have seen a shift in the way people are using their mangoes, whether that be in a salad, thrown on the barbeque, in a smoothie or used in a dessert."

Mr Gray said the industry had learnt from avocado growers, and now had a strong focus on quality and reliability.

"Avocados are one fruit that have increased consumption by creating multiple uses and occasions," he said.

"We believe that the same can be said for mango consumption."

Martina Matzner manages one of the biggest mango farms in the Northern Territory, Calypso Mango in Darwin.

She said targeted production would help spread out mango sales during the short selling period.

"You target the areas that aren't buying mangoes yet," she said.

"That would obviously help the industry to increase demand for potential overproduction in a short period of time because it's such a seasonal thing."

Ms Matzner said growing mango varieties that extend the harvesting period would also boost already-booming sales.

"At the moment, it's still only a three to six-month season and if we can succeed with different varieties to extend it, automatically [mangoes] will become more of a staple diet," she said.

According to industry body statistics, the number of households purchasing 11 or more mangoes per season has jumped 11 per cent since 2013, which, combined with rising prices, has led to a 71 per-cent increase in retail value.

There are now 800 growers nation-wide, producing about $191 million dollars worth of fruit every year.

Domestic exports to Sydney and Melbourne dominate the market, but the next hurdle for the industry is to secure more international markets in Asia, Europe and most importantly, the United States, which accounts for approximately 30 per cent of all mango imports.

If growers succeed, the AMIA forecasts the industry will be worth almost $280 million by June 2022.

Avoiding a repeat of the strawberry crisis
At the Darwin farm, new technology has been brought in to ensure high quality and transparency throughout the growing process.

Packing may look rudimentary, but recent contamination scares and an ongoing consumer demand for traceability have seen the farm implement a system to track every piece of fruit from its tree all the way to point of sale.

The result is a powerhouse of data collection.

Every mango has a barcode which can be traced to identify who packed it and its condition when it was packed.

Another barcode on each box details which field the fruit came from, the time of day it was picked, and which employee did the picking.

Barcodes on fruit and packing boxes store data that meets a demand for traceability and helps with yield predictions. 

"With the click of a button, you hold [the tracking machine] against the fruit and then it tells you what the dry matter is, it maps the GPS and then I can see it on the map," Ms Matzner said.

"It overlays a farm map right to the row, right to the particular tree."

The data collection also takes the guesswork out of estimating the yield and packing requirements.

"All the technology we now involve is to try to get precise yield predictions," Ms Matzner said.

"You look at the map and you can actually target the areas you're picking, taking the risk out of picking immature fruit.

"Once you know your yield predictions, if you know it early enough, you know how many staff you need, you know when you're going to harvest what, you know how many trucks you need, you know how many cardboard boxes you need."

A challenging harvest in the hot and wet
Another substantial challenge of getting the desirable fruit to market is a time-consuming harvest.

Mango season in the Northern Territory is traditionally during the infamously brutal build-up, the period between the dry season and monsoon, when humidity lurks around 90 per cent and dark clouds linger but rarely deliver rain.

In the dry season, usually June and July, cooler temperatures allow the mango tree to flower, which then produces fruit.

Farmers then have to wait, hoping all their fruit flowers at roughly the same time and in large numbers.

The biggest obstacle, however, is getting the fruit off the trees.

Harvesting is a monumental job, with 90 tonnes of fruit picked every day.

The fruit only lasts a few weeks, so it must be packed and transported almost 4,000 kilometres to market before the quality starts to degrade.

Ms Matzner said an organised system and hard work from 130 backpackers made the laborious process run more smoothly.

"We have people from all over the world that have travelled halfway around the world to come and be part of a mango harvest," she said.

"The opportunities up here are endless. If you want to do something and you believe in it, this is the place to come.

"Farming is technology, farming is exciting."

Souce: Landline By Kristy O'Brien and Anna Levy

Australian mangoes promoted in Korea

1,200 guests enjoyed a taste of Australian summer at an Australia Day-eve event held in Seoul

Fresh Australian mangoes supplied by Australian mango supplier Manbulloo were front and centre at a celebration on 25 January at the Grand Hyatt in Seoul, hosted by the Australian Embassy.

The event was given the theme ‘Australia Day Open’ and combined iconic Australian foods with a live screening of the Australian Open semi-final tennis match.

The My Mango newsletter reported that mangoes were showcased at a dessert buffet table featuring mini pavlova’s, mango pudding, mango smoothies and mango ice cream using 20 trays of fresh Manbulloo R2E2 fruit, delivered by Jinwon Trading.

Guests including government and business representatives, media and influencers attended the event which was a celebration of all things Australian.

Australia enjoys a 24 per cent import tariff when sending mangoes to Korea. This is around six percentage points less than many other countries who must comply with the standard 30 per cent applied to WTO members. Australia has been shipping mango to Korea since it gained an access protocol in 2010.

Source: http://www.fruitnet.com/asiafruit
Author: Camellia Aebischer


Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bangdoll/ 

South Korea to start exporting Kyoho Grapes to Australia

This Wednesday, the Agricultural Ministry of the Republic of South Korea said it has won approval from its Australian counterpart to start shipping Kyoho grapes there as of this year.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said it has paved the way for South Korean farms to ship Kyoho grapes, which are normally larger than typical breeds, to Australia under a simple procedure. It had been requesting Australia ease regulations in terms of quarantines since 2017.

Starting this year, the grapes can be shipped without an additional decontamination process, if the exporter can prove the farms carried out comprehensive food safety measures. With the latest decision, South Korea will be shipping two kinds of grapes to Australia, including the Campbell Early type.

The world’s sixth-largest exporting country has only been sending Campbell Early grapes to Australia since 2012. The ministry said the latest deal falls in line with Seoul’s efforts to bolster sales of high-end fruits and vegetables overseas.

Source: koreabizwire.com via www.freshplaza.com 

Publication date : 1/30/2019

Australia wary of Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

Some believe Australia is facing an increasing threat from one of the world’s most invasive pests. Six post-border detections have occurred in the current Stink Bug season (September-April) across Queensland, Victoria, and Western Australia on a variety of imported cargo, from terracotta pots to tractors and machinery. Three of the detections have been in Queensland, in Lytton, New Chum, and Fisherman’s Island, two were in Melbourne, and one was in Fremantle.

This compares with only three post-border detections of BMSB in Australia in 2017/18. Two were in Western Sydney and one in Perth. All were associated with goods that had been imported from Italy.

The Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is working closely with each of the affected state governments. Each detection has seen swift and effective response measures put in place.

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources has issued a release highlighting recent facts and current biosecurity strategy related to the BMSB.

‘One of the most invasive plant pests in the world.’
Expert Advisor to APAL’s Apple and Pear Biosecurity Steering Committee Kevin Clayton-Green has called the BMSB “one of the most invasive plant pests in the world.”

“It’s had no trouble spreading through Europe, and after being found in the eastern US in 1998 it’s taken less than twenty years for it to be found across the country,” he said. “When feeding on fruit it leaves damaging marks, which leaves the fruit unsalable. It can also completely defoliate young trees when they are most vulnerable.”

Outbreaks of BMSB have caused significant losses to apple and pear growers in the eastern US since its arrival, and it is now regarded as a greater pest than codling moth.

Source: apal.org.au via www.freshplaza.com 

Publication date : 1/30/2019

China and the great international avocado takeover

The avocado is spreading to every corner of the world. It is difficult to know why the avocado is catching on globally. It may be the influence of the US culinary culture. It could be a result of marketing efforts. It might also just be that in the age of globalization, the most delicious foods will inevitably find their way into the mouths of discerning eaters no matter where they are.

The avocado boom is decades-long in the US. But since 2015, growth in avocado imports to the US have slowed. The rest of the world picked up the slack. For example, imports to China grew from just 154 tons in 2012 to over 31,000 tons in 2017. Data from the first quarter of 2018 suggests the growth continued. Other countries that have seen similar spikes in recent years include Saudi Arabia, Ireland and South Korea.

Read the rest of the article : https://www.freshplaza.com/article/9066889/china-and-the-great-international-avocado-takeover/

Political discord takes its toll: China-Australia trade growth slows

In 2018, the growth of Australia’s trade with China shrank by more than two-thirds. Analysts said on Sunday it remains to be seen how bilateral trade will perform in 2019.

On January 23, China’s General Administration of Customs (GAC) released figures showing that Australia’s trade with China stood at 1 trillion yuan ($149.3 billion), up 8.9 percent year-on-year. That growth figure was nearly 30 percent in 2017. China’s exports to Australia grew 11.4 percent while imports were up 7.8 percent.

The growth rates were dismal compared with 2017, when a free trade agreement boosted bilateral trade and sent the figure up 29.1 percent to 923.41 billion yuan, GAC figures showed. China’s exports to Australia were up 13.9 percent and imports up 37.2 percent during that year, and China held about 30 percent of Australia’s export market.

Experts say the global economic outlook damaged by the China-US trade war was one reason for much slower trade growth between the two countries.

As described on hellenicshippingnews.com, relations between Australia and China have soured since the country accused China in late 2017 of meddling in domestic affairs. The country then in August blocked Chinese telecommunication giant Huawei Technologies Co from supplying 5G equipment.

Publication date : 1/29/2019

Source: www.freshplaza.com 

Australian citrus sees opportunity in Vietnam

Trade figures for Australian citrus exports have shown preference in Vietnam for larger fruit
Citrus Australia trade figures ending November 2018 show Australia had exported a total of 247,000 tonnes, at A$448m (US$320m) in citrus in the 12 months to 30 November.

The industry body said the slight decline in volume was attributed to a lighter mandarin crop out of the northern state of Queensland, compared with 2017, but that export volumes to date were better than previously predicted due to a larger orange crop.

Key markets, China and Japan, took 50 per cent and 18 per cent of the country’s orange exports respectively, with China importing almost a third (30 per cent) of the total mandarin share.

Vietnam also shone through as an emerging market, with export figures continuing to grow. David Daniels, Citrus Australia market development manager said Vietnam was becoming an important market for Australian citrus.

“Vietnamese consumers prefer slightly larger fruit, which complements fruit [sizes] required in other markets,” he said. “Demand in these smaller markets means further opportunities for Australian growers.”

“Key markets in 2018 were China, Japan, the US, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates,” Citrus Australia said in a statement. “Thailand was our second biggest market for mandarins, taking 12 per cent or 7,396 tonnes, while the US took 10 per cent of mandarins or 6,190 tonnes.”

Source: http://www.fruitnet.com/asiafruit

Author: Camellia Aebischer

Mexican asparagus in demand

With favourable weather and trade channels clean Mexico’s asparagus traders are enjoying a smooth season ahead
The 2019 Mexican asparagus deal is expected to perform like more of a bell-shaped production curve as opposed to the sharp spike of 2018.

Cold night time temperatures prior to the harvest are what asparagus farmers hope for every year because it forces the plant into dormancy, fortifying for the season just ahead.

“The last of the production out of (Southern) Baja California is just finishing and Peru is directing the last of its volume to Europe so the supply channels are quite clean at the moment,” said Jim Hanson of Grower Direct Marketing, a major importer-exporter of Mexican asparagus.

“Prices are ranging anywhere from US$35 to US$50 on 11lb (5kg) cartons at the moment. Doesn’t matter if it’s standards, large or jumbo – if you’ve got a box of ‘grass it will sell.”

“Last January (2018) was one of the heaviest ever (for shipments),” noted Hanson. “There’s a totally different ‘feel’ to the deal this year as production didn’t get going in any significant way until early February.”

“The bulk of the deal – barring weather – will hit between week 7 (10 February) and week 13 (26 March) this year. The Mexicali Valley will get going around 20 January followed by Caborca (Sonora) a little later. Beginning in early April, however, we’re expecting a significant downturn in production, which probably means very low supplies for Easter (21 April).”

With the current gap in production, shipments all but ceased to Japan during much of January. Since Japan demands a specific grade of asparagus, Hanson expects that exports probably won’t resume until late January or early February.

“It takes another seven to ten days after the domestic deal gets going to have enough asparagus to supply that market.”


Source: http://www.fruitnet.com/asiafruit

Author: Jeff Long

Costa acquires NCF

Nangiloc Colignan Farm in Sunraysia is now operating under the name Costa Group Colignan Farm
Australian fresh produce giant, Costa Group, has announced its acquisition of Nangiloc Colignan Farm in Australia’s Sunraysia growing region, on17 January.

The citrus and grape operations will now be run under the name Costa Group Colignan Farm and contains young citrus plantings as well as table grapes which will be sold to export markets.

Harry Debney, Costa CEO, said the move will help Costa diversify its supply regions.

“This acquisition and location in the Sunraysia region will reduce reliance on any one region in our portfolio and will also open up additional growth opportunities, in particular with respect to Afourer mandarins and navel oranges as this will allow us to further take advantage of export market demand,” he said.

General manager citrus and grapes, Elliot Jones, said up to a third of the farm’s citrus crop was less than five years old. “The Colignan Farm opens additional growth opportunities for Costa which we will see complement our supply base of long-standing loyal growers,” he said.

The farm contains 567 hectares of citrus and grapes. Of that 240 hectares are made up of citrus, including 103 hectares of Afourer mandarins, 105 hectares of oranges, 204 hectares of table grapes and 123 hectares of wine grapes.

Source: http://www.fruitnet.com/asiafruit

Author: Camellia Aebischer