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Making inroads with irradiation

Demand for irradiation services is increasing in Australia, as key export markets accept it as a phytosanitary treatment
Regarded as simple and highly reliable, irradiation treatment is opening doors for Australian exporters in Asia.

Within the past 18 months, both Vietnam and Thailand have recognised irradiation as an accepted phytosanitary treatment for selected Australian fruit lines.

The irradiation treatment process takes about 45 minutes to complete and is a continuous flow of palletised product on a conveyor. It is conducted within the confines of a chilled room, meaning the consignment can be loaded for export immediately after treatment without any disruption to the cool chain.

Once treated, the fruit is free to travel to its destination by whichever means desired. It means airfreight is now a viable option for Australian exporters targeting discerning consumers with a preference for the freshest possible fruit.

Australian cherry and table grape suppliers are already sending fruit to Vietnam under this method, with demand for irradiation services from these two sectors exceeding expectations, according to Ben Reilly of Steritech, an Australian company specialising in irradiation treatment from a facility in Brisbane.

“We expected demand to peak at the start and end of the grape season, but over 2017/18 the demand for airfreight treatments was season-long,” Reilly said. “Importers are excited to receive early shipments of the freshest grape variety being harvested. For cherries there really is no other viable option for airfreight.”

Australia and Thailand announced a new irradiation pathway for horticultural exports in September. Australian persimmons and Thai mangoes were the first products to be ticked off for approval under the irradiation plan.

Produced primarily in south-east Queensland, Australian persimmons have previously been exported to Thailand under cold treatment. It’s unlikely irradiated Australian persimmons will be shipped in significant volumes, however, the protocol is being viewed as a significant win as it sets a precedence for other products to follow.

Reilly can also see doors opening for irradiated Australian fruit in other markets across Asia and around the world.

“The treatment is highly reliable with fewer variables that can impact efficacy, which is increasingly important to regulators,” he said. “It’s a unique combination of commercial, technical and environmental benefits that are driving the growth.”

Such is the promise irradiation shows for Australian exporters, Steritech is developing a second facility in Melbourne, which is on track to be open for exports over the 2019/20 Australian summer. Melbourne is located closer to the country’s major cherry and grape production regions than Steritech’s Brisbane facility, which was initially built to handle Australia’s tropical crops.

“With the Melbourne facility, Australian grapes and cherries should be capable of arriving in markets like Vietnam and Thailand within 48 to 72 hours of being picked,” Reilly explained. “This would provide a tremendous advantage for Australian producers competing in a global market.”

Read more about market access gains being made by Australian exporters with irradiation in the December 2018/January 2019 edition of Asiafruit Magazine, out now.

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

Author: Matthew Jones

Australian dollar hits decade lows

Australia’s exporters of agricultural goods could be among the beneficiaries of a definite slump in the value of the Australian dollar. On Thursday, the AUD slipped to US67.49, the lowest value in over a decade, before recovering to US69.31 later in trade.

International investors, spooked by the poor end to the year on financial markets, have flocked to the safe haven investment of the US dollar, which has soared in the early part of 2019, spurred on by the US Federal Reserve hiking interest rates. The dollar did not fall by as much in comparison to other currencies such as the UK pound or the euro.

Much of the blame for the drop was apportioned to weaker economic data out of China, where the manufacturing sector contracted for the first time in over a year and a half. Analysts believe the US-China trade war is starting to impact the Asian giant.

According to queenslandcountrylife.com.au, Australia’s heavy reliance on China as a trade partner means bad financial news there has a big impact on domestic markets.


Publication date : 1/3/2019

Source: https://www.freshplaza.com

Australia: Hail causes “significant” losses on cherry orchards in NSW region

A hailstorm that hit Australia in late December has caused substantial losses in a New South Wales region but will not have a significant impact on national volumes this season, according to an industry body.

Although hail was experienced over a wide area of the country last month, damage within the cherry industry is localized to the Orange region, which has been declared an agricultural natural disaster zone.

Cherry Growers Australia president Tom Eastlake said the damage was incurred from one single hail event.

“Orchards in the hail affected area are significantly affected, but not all orchards in Orange are affected,” he said, adding that there have been no impacts on farms outside this area.

Although the Orange orchards have been severely impacted, Eastlake said the hail would not have a significant effect on national volumes for the 2018-19 season, which is now in full swing.

“Expect overall harvest tonnage is to be up this year, however, the drought has affected yields in some areas and rain (and aforementioned hail) will impact total tonnage. The total amount to be harvested now is unknown and may be down on initial expectations, although there is still expected to be an increase on 2017-2018 tonnage,” he said.
Cherries are grown across New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania, with small production in Queensland and Western Australia.

Source: https://www.freshfruitportal.com 

Shipments of oranges and mandarins to China continue to climb, while US demand stabilises

Increasing demand from China has been the driving force behind growth in Australian citrus exports over the last decade. Shipments to all international markets have increased on average 8 per cent by volume per year over ten years to 265,000 tonnes (12 months to September 2018).

Based on preliminary results for 2018, exports may miss the 2017 record (volume) by around 3 per cent, however, it is still a very strong result compared to even a few years ago. According to peak industry body Citrus Australia, mandarin exports were lower due to the lighter crop in Queensland this year, as well as an earlier finish to the season.

China, including Hong Kong, accounted for around 44 per cent of Australian citrus exports in 2018 (data until September), followed by Japan with 15 per cent.

Comparatively, China, including mostly Hong Kong, made up 17 per cent of exports in 2008, while Japan was 11 per cent. Back then North America was the leading market, holding a 22 per cent share of exports. It now holds 7 per cent.

Australia enjoyed many years of solid trade into North America, being the first Southern Hemisphere country to gain market access for citrus to the US in 1993. As more countries gained access to this lucrative market, Australia’s share declined. While Australia’s market development focus has shifted to China, the North American market, including the US and Canada, has settled to a stable demand pattern for Australian oranges and increasingly mandarins, mostly from the West Coast regions. Trade to North America lifted 8 per cent in 2018.

Korea is a developing market for Australian oranges and lifted 48 per cent in 2018 to over 3,000 tonnes. With tariffs approaching zero by 2020 under a free trade agreement, Citrus Australia sees greater opportunities in the Korean market for counter-seasonal citrus from Australia.

ASEAN markets have long been the mainstay of Australian citrus exports, though the mix of markets has changed. Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines have ramped up to become significant markets, while Singapore has been steady at around 10,000 tonnes. Malaysia, once the largest market in the region, has declined in volume by over 50 per cent in ten years.

The Middle East markets have increased more than 3 per cent year-on-year over the decade, although they dipped some 20 per cent in 2018 as other suppliers increased their share in the region and traded more directly with end markets rather than through the UAE hub.

Europe remains a small opportunistic market for Australian citrus, with some niche opportunities for high-end fruit that can withstand the long distance and freight costs.

Citrus Australia has been focused on developing sustained export growth that has provided viable returns for growers large and small.

The range of navel oranges and the development of new seedless mandarin varieties to meet market needs have been instrumental in the growth enjoyed over the last few years, along with a cohesive team of professional exporters supported by Citrus Australia.

 

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

Author: Wayne Prowse

Australian stonefruit ready for retail

New export programme aims to build market share for Australian stonefruit in China

It’s not hard to see why China is the word on the Australian stonefruit industry’s lips.

Having gained direct access to the Asian nation for nectarines in 2016, Australian peaches, plums and apricots were approved for export in late 2017. The opening propelled the industry to its best export performance in over a decade, with 17,785 tonnes of fruit shipped internationally over 2017/18, a 27 per cent increase year-on-year.

China was the leading destination for this trade, receiving 4,985 tonnes of fruit directly, while Hong Kong took 3,308 tonnes.

With the 2018/19 export season getting underway in late November (2018), hopes are high these figures will again be eclipsed.

“Last year we had an exceptional year, our best export year since 2003, and we’re confident we’ll match it,” said John Moore, chief executive of peak industry body Summerfruit Australia.

“It will be the first year of full participation by all summerfruit growers in Australia for exports to China, with fruit primarily coming from Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales.”

To aid market development efforts and showcase the full capabilities of the industry, Australia’s Summerfruit Export Development Alliance (SEDA) – a body that sits within Summerfuit Australia – has developed a concentrated retail programme for the Chinese market.

Backed by a Food Sources grant from the Victorian state government, the programme will see eight Australian growers supply fruit directly to selected retail partners.

After SEDA called for expressions of interest in the programme in mid-2018, the participating growers were selected based on their ability to meet defined quality specifications.

An independent programme facilitator, appointed by SEDA, will conduct inspections upon each consignment’s departure to ensure the quality specifications continue to be met, while there will also be a provision for the Chinese retailers to have the fruit assessed upon arrival.

The programme’s remit isn’t just to highlight the quality of Australian stonefruit; it also aims to bring the category to the forefront of Chinese consumers’ minds.

A wide range of point-of-sale and promotional materials have been developed especially for the programme, while participating growers will send extra fruit to the retailers at no added charge in order to facilitate in-store sampling.

The SEDA programme will operate independently from the established Taste Australia retail programme, which also includes stonefruit promotions.

Ian McAlister, chair of SEDA, said one of the immediate benefits of the programme has been the level of collaboration it has promoted between participating growers. By McAlister's admission, no single Australian exporter has the capacity to deal with a large retailer on their own. By working together, the goal is to drive value growth for the category.

“What they (retailers) demand is consistency of product and the continuous supply of product,” McAlister said. “You can’t come in for one week, send a couple of containers, then be out of the market for three weeks.

“Under this programme, every grower will retain their identity, but if we can get a benchmark standard and consistency it will give the Chinese consumers and retailers the confidence that we can deliver again and again.”

Over 120 Australian stonefruit growers registered to send fruit to China ahead of the 2018/19 season, up from 76 on the year prior, indicating the willingness among the industry to grow this market. With this in mind, provisions have already been made to expand the retail programme.

“It’s been clearly explained to SEDA members that this is a pilot programme to demonstrate to the Chinese retailers that this can work,” Moore explained. “Eventually, as demand grows, we’ll need to source more and more fruit, so other growers will be encouraged to come onboard, providing they can meet the benchmark quality.”

Read more about the SEDA retail programme in the December 2018/January 2019 edition of Asiafruit Magazine, out now.

Source: http://www.fruitnet.com/asiafruit  Author: Matthew Jones

Hort Connections 2019

AUSVEG and PMA Australia-New Zealand Limited (PMA A-NZ) have again united to deliver the joint industry conference and Trade Show, Hort Connections 2019.

Hort Connections 2019 will be held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre 24–26 June 2019. Members in the horticulture industry will be inspired to aim high, with the theme ‘Growing our Food Future’ headlining the conference. The event will cater to buyers and sellers from every segment of the fresh produce and floral supply chain including seed companies, growers, packers, processors, shippers, importers and exporters, wholesalers and retailers, foodservice, associated suppliers to the industry,
and many more.

Following on from the successful Hort Connections 2018 in Brisbane, this year’s event is set to become the most influential space for networking, education and business for the entire fresh produce industry.

China: Cold storage forecast: capacity will exceed 53 million tons in 2018

With the rapid development of the domestic cold chain logistics market, the market demand for cold storage is becoming more and more prominent. Online shopping, fresh e-commerce, and fruit and vegetable home delivery are all popular choices in the current consumer market. For online shopping, fresh e-commerce, fruit and vegetable home delivery, transportation is very important. Benefiting from the growth of such consumption, the domestic cold chain logistics market has also developed rapidly. It is estimated that the size of China's cold chain logistics market will reach nearly 300 billion yuan in 2018. By 2020, the market will be nearly 470 billion yuan.

Cold storage is one of the important infrastructures in the cold chain logistics industry. At present, the domestic cold storage demand is mainly concentrated in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong, Shenzhen, as well as Fujian, Tianjin, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Shandong, Chongqing, Henan and other places.

In recent years, the number of cold storage facilities in China has increased, but there is still room for growth when considering the huge potential market. According to statistics, China's cold storage capacity exceeded 48 million tons in 2017 and will continue to grow in the future. It is estimated that by 2018, China's cold storage capacity will exceed 53 million tons.

Source: China Business Intelligence Network via www.freshplaza.com

Publication date : 12/18/2018

T&G Global: Orchard Rd to export first Aussie Tulare Giant sugar plums to China

T&G Global is gearing up for harvests of Australian Tulare Giant sugar plums with plans to ship the fruit to Asian markets under its Orchard Rd brand.

The company’s general manager of Australia (exports) Paul Scheffer says the fruit will start to be picked in small volumes next week with most growers expecting to start picking between Christmas and New Year.

“Size is looking larger than usual with our expectation of increased production of Tulare Giant that will be in good supply until mid-February,” Scheffer says.

“Export markets will include Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and mainland China. Retailers will be ranging under the Orchard Rd brand with promotional activity being scheduled for the lead-up into Lunar New Year.”

The option to export to mainland China has been made possible by the country’s decision in November 2017 to expand its market opening for Australian stonefruit to also include plums, peaches and apricots in a protocol that already included nectarines.

“We’ve got growers registered to meet the protocol for that direct access to China; that protocol will play a big part of what we do with Tulare,” says Scheffer, adding the fruit will be assisted into the market by T&G’s own Shanghai office.

“Initially the demand was purely taken up in Asia, but in the last two seasons we’ve released the product domestically here in Australia and that’s really given us a good balance for our growers.

“We’re doing a lot of targeted marketing around Chinese New Year as well – it’s been really successful.”

T&G has commercialization rights in Australia for the variety, which was bred by the University of California Davis.

“We are fortunate the have growers who are committed to delivering a great quality product with excellent eating characteristics,” says Scheffer.

He adds Tulare Giants are the earliest plums to hit the shelves in Australia, and the product should fit nicely into export markets as well as a counter-seasonal option to supplies from California.

Released as a cross-category brand less than a year ago with the goal of broader consumer recognition in Australia, Orchard Rd has expanded internationally.

Scheffer says the company has already been exporting USA berries and cherries into Asia under the label, as well as New Zealand berries and grapes for Japan.

“Our berry fruit and our sugar plums will probably be our two big Orchard Rd drivers for the summer,” he says.

Source: https://www.freshfruitportal.com 

First Australian avocados land in Japan

Australia’s first-ever avocado exports to Japan have recently arrived in the Asian country, receiving a ceremonious launch at the Australian embassy in Tokyo on Tuesday.

Government officials from both sides were in attendance, along with Japanese importers and retailers as well as industry representatives from Hort Innovation and Avocados Australia.

A new protocol signed in May allows the export of Australian Hass avocados grown in Queensland fruit fly-free areas to Japan.

Avocados Australia CEO John Tyas said the new trade agreement was “very exciting news for the Australian avocado industry”, and acknowledged the cumulative hard work by all agencies involved in making the trade agreement possible.

“It is very exciting for the industry that we can now add Japan to our exclusive list of export destinations for our top-quality premium Hass avocados,” he said.

“The industry in Australia is growing rapidly and we are very confident that Australia will be producing about 115,000 tonnes of avocados per year by 2025. This is 50 per cent more than our current production, and expanding our domestic and international markets is essential.”

Hort Innovation CEO Matt Brand said Australia has built a solid reputation for its premium quality fresh fruit and vegetables.

“Table grapes and citrus fruits are already established export products in the Japanese market and their market success has demonstrated a willingness by consumers to pay a premium price for high-quality produce,” he said.

“Japan is wholly dependent on avocado imports for their national supply. Until now, their avocados were predominantly sourced from Mexico and to a lesser extent, Peru, the US and New Zealand.”

He added that introducing Australian avocados into the marketplace offers Japanese consumers “a point of difference to their current supply” and will strengthen trade ties with local exporters.

“We are confident that this new market access opportunity will enhance trade relations with Japan, and in time, open up market access for other premium fresh fruit and vegetable items,” he said.

 

Source: https://www.freshfruitportal.com 

'California table grape shipments ‘to continue through January’

The California Table Grape Commission says that shipments are expected to continue “through the end of January” in what has been a record-breaking season.

Gowers shipped more than 27.7 million boxes into the worldwide marketplace from Oct. 13 to Nov. 30, the highest amount ever for the time period, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The previous seven-week shipment record during the same time period was set in 2013.

Earlier this season, the five-week shipping record for the time period between Sept. 8 through Oct. 12 was broken.

The three-month period of Sept. 1 to Nov. 30 set another record with over 55 million boxes of grapes shipped – an all-time high, beating the previous record set in 2013 for this time period.

Kathleen Nave, president of the California Table Grape Commission, said that aggressive fall and winter promotion programs are continuing.

The later end to the California table grape deal means there will likely be significant overlap with Peruvian and Chilean supplies. The Peruvian season began a few weeks ago, while the first Chilean harvests took place at the end of November.

The heavy California supplies also caused some of the lowest prices seen in years over the fall period, according to USDA data. The average values over much of November down by around a quarter on the three-year average.

Source: https://www.freshfruitportal.com 

Australian carrots leading veg export

However, all fresh vegetable exports are surging

Australian carrots continue to be a taste favourite for foreign consumers in terms of both export value and volume. Ausveg released new figures and insights into vegetable exports last week.

Ausveg reported the value and volume of fresh Australian vegetable exports increased in 2017/18, following strong trading conditions in key export markets in Asia and the Middle East.

Increased demand for Australian-grown vegetables in the region and increased activities and investment in securing the exporting capabilities of the industry’s growers have also contributed to the positive figures. The value of fresh Australian vegetable exports increased by three percent to $262.4 million in 2017/18. Over the same period, the volume of fresh vegetable exports also increased by 9 percent to 208,000 tonnes.

This continues a recent upward trend for vegetable exports and bolster's Ausveg's ambitious aim to see a 40% growth in the market to $315 million in fresh vegetable exports by 2020.

The top five markets for fresh vegetable exports by volume in 2017/18 -making up just more than 60% of Australia’s total fresh vegetable export volume- were:

- United Arab Emirates (UAE)
- Singapore
- Malaysia
- South Korea
- Saudi Arabia

In terms of exports by value however, Singapore was on top, followed by the UAE, Japan, Malaysia and Hong Kong, with the top three of these markets making up more than 50% of the industry’s total fresh vegetable export value.

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


Publication date : 12/10/2018

Australia’s fresh orange production forecast at 500,000 tons

USDA GAIN report:
Australia’s fresh orange production is forecast at 500,000 metric tons (MT) in 2018/19, down 3 percent on the estimate for the previous year. Australia is a counter-seasonal exporter of mainly navel oranges to north-Asian markets such as China and Japan while the United States exports navel oranges during Australia’s off-season.

Post forecasts orange exports at 215,000 MT, down 6.5 percent on the estimate for the previous year because of lower production. Orange juice production, mainly from Valencia oranges, is forecast to decline by 7 percent in 2018/19 while total imports of orange juice and orange juice concentrate are forecast to be stable.

Citrus production is a major horticultural sector in Australia and a leading export product. Orange producers dominate the citrus industry and are located along the Murrumbidgee and Murray Rivers in the Riverina, Sunraysia, and Riverland irrigation areas of New South Wales (NSW), Victoria, and South Australia. These regions produce both eating (navel) and juicing (Valencia) oranges. The Central Burnett region in Queensland produces mandarins, lemons, and limes. There are also smaller citrus plantings in Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

While export demand for navel oranges has increased, producers have faced higher costs for irrigation water. In November 2018, the total amount of water stored in the Murray Darling Basin’s dams dropped below 50 percent compared to over 70 percent at the same time last year. For most citrus producing regions, such as the Riverina, producers have faced drier than average conditions and higher temperatures, with a similar outlook forecast for the period to January 2019. A number of frosts have occurred throughout all of the orange growing regions throughout the winter period. However, the effects of the frosts were minimal and caused only slight fruit damage in scattered areas.

Post forecasts Australian domestic orange consumption in 2018/19 to be stable at 245,000 MT, the same as in the previous year. Navels oranges are generally large and seedless and mature earlier than other oranges. Domestic sales are usually made directly to large supermarket chains or through central fruit markets. Citrus consumption usually increases from June to August each year.

Click here for the full report.


Publication date : 12/10/2018

Source: www.freshplaza.com