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Australian cherry sector recovers after bad season

After a difficult season last year, in which the weather seriously disrupted the cherry production in Australia, the sector will recover over the coming season. This was written by the USDA in a recent report. Although better prices can be made with exports, most of the production is sold on the domestic market.

After a strong decrease last year, in which the volume was 10,000 tonnes, a volume of 16,000 tonnes is estimated for the season 2017/2018. The strong decline last year was the result of unfavourable weather conditions, such as the heavy rain in the spring. The export figures were disappointing last year. The export volume halved to 2,500 tonnes in 2016/17. The import of cherries from the US also dropped to 2,200 tonnes last year.

Chinese New Year
The cherry production is relatively small, with a share of around 1% in the global production. The country has over 500 cherry growers that are worth an area of 3,300 hectares together. The plantations are fitted with modern cultivation techniques. Seasonal factors such as rain, air humidity and frost are determining factors for the production. The investments in greenhouses such as in Tasmania and Victoria aim to take these influences out of the picture and extend the season. The growers hope to be on the market until after the Chinese New Year this way and profit from the extremely high demand around this holiday.

The season lasts from mid October until the end of February. The production can be found in six states. New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania are the main cultivation areas. Western Australia and Queensland are the smallest production areas, with a focus on the domestic market. The season starts in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria, in December and January Western Australia and Tasmania follow.

Tasmanian growers export most
There has been a lot of investment in the area in Tasmania. The growers there profit from low disease pressure and have a strong focus on the export. The harvest only takes eight weeks on the island, whereas the other states have a harvest of three to four months. Despite this, Tasmania is worth a third of the production.

After last year's disappointing figures the export also recovered. An export of 5,000 tonnes is estimated for the season 2017/2018. The domestic market is traditionally good for two thirds of the production, but the export is more lucrative. Research done in 2016 shows that the average price for a grower on the domestic market was 7 Australian growers compared to 17 Australian dollars for export. Export peaks between November and January.

The Tasmanian growers in particular have a strong focus on export. Around 90% of the production is traded over the border. This is thanks to low disease pressure, among other things, which allows for easier access to certain markets. Export markets are Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. The main market, however, is Hong Kong, as the import demands are less strict there. In recent years Hong Kong and China have been worth half of the cherry export together. China in particular is a growing market. South Korea is also a growing market, partially due to the phasing out of import taxes under a free trade accord made by the countries.


Publication date: 8/29/2017


 


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