Cherry Growers Association CEO Simon Boughey

"New export data "really shows demand Australian cherries"

The latest Australian cherry season has smashed export records, with initial figures for the 2015-16 season indicating export volumes were 63 per cent higher than the previous year.

The early figures, released by Fresh Intelligence Consulting, show a total volume of 5,458 tonnes for the season to date, with a value of $73.97 million.

Cherry Growers Association Chief Executive Officer Simon Boughey says this figure is nearly 2000 tonnes more than the 3700 tonnes exported the previous season.

“It’s an excellent result so far,” he says. “It really shows the demand for Australian cherries around the world.”

He says exports were made up of a combination of protocol and non-protocol markets, so different growing regions in Australian would have different results for the season.

“Protocol markets are mainly getting fruit from Tasmania, but these results show there’s also been an increase in non-protocol markets.”

The two largest international markets for Australian cherries were Hong Kong and China, with 2177 tonnes and 806 tonnes respectively.

“We did send 100 tonnes of cherries from the mainland to China this year, by sea freight, but the rest came from Tasmania,” Mr Boughey says.

The biggest non-protocol market was Singapore, with 510 tonnes this season, followed by the United Arab Emirates (274 tonnes) and Malaysia (209 tonnes), and Mr Boughey says that there is huge demand all across Asia.

“Even in places not identified in these numbers – like the Philippines, India and Japan – there’s great expansion of the industry and if you can get a good supply chain happening, I just see these figures increasing over the next four to five years, if not longer.”

He says there is also potential for the industry to grow even further if an airfreight could be introduced throughout Australia and protocols for some markets changed to allow for mainland access.

“If we had air freight and equal access around Australia for places like China, Thailand, Indonesia and South Korea, the market would expand for us,” he says.

Currently most protocol markets only receive cherries for about six weeks of the season, but this could be extended for the entire 3-4 month harvest period if industry improvements were made.

“That’s why working really hard with the Australian federal government’s Department of Agriculture and Water Resources to see if we can get market improvement and access into these key markets.”

He says airfreight also gives growers an opportunity to get their fruit to international markets in the shortest amount of time, which could also increase demand.

“For places like Singapore, which is non-protocol, exporters from South Australia can have fruit there within 48 hours. It’s the same for all growing regions and it means we can harvest, then have the fruit land ready for market in a short amount of time, so that’s why airfreight is so important for us.”

With ongoing development of the cherry export industry, and the growing reputation of the quality of the fruit, Mr Boughey says that the industry looks set to grow significantly over the next 5-10 years.

“I’d say within that time we’ll get up to 20,000 to 25,000 tonnes,” he says.

“There’s also an increase in crop production occurring in Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia, and while we haven’t got a full season report I think domestic demand has also gone up.”

He likens the domestic growth in the category to that of avocados, which have seen unprecedented demand in the past few years.

“It is a bit like what’s happening with avocados. I think with these healthier fruits, if we get them exposure and sell them well, they get picked up by both domestic and export markets.”

He says the final report for the 2015/16 cherry season will be released in a month’s time, and with a more detailed list of export markets, as well as state-by-state analysis.

For more information:
Simon Boughey
Cherry Growers Association

Tel: +61 419 871 824


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