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New grape season begins as China protocol is revised

The Australian table grape harvest begins in earnest this week for growers in and around the northern Australian town of Emerald, with Mundubbera and St George to follow in November and December respectively.
Chairman of the Australian Table Grape Association, Mr Richard Lomman says the crop is looking similar to last year. “Yields are on par with last year and last year was a light year, which was a good year for growers. The national harvest begins in Emerald with varieties such as Early Sweet, Flame Seedless and then Menindee Seedless. Similar varieties follow in the other Queensland regions and Northern Territory before growers in the southern states start picking their crops.”

Mr Lomman anticipates that growers will be rewarded, with pricing reflecting the quality and supply of the produce.

ATGA also announced this week that the protocol for Australian grapes to China has been revised and now agreed to.

ATGA CEO Jeff Scott said, “The ATGA and the Plant Division have been working solidly over the last 12 months to get in place these important revisions to the 2011 protocol, which will be a real enabler for significant growth for the Australian table grape industry. China is our largest market. Last year’s harvest saw 40% of our total exports going to markets in China, we estimate that with these changes to the protocol, the value of the exports will be worth an additional $100 million to the industry”

At season end for 2016/2017 harvest, the Australian table grape exports totalled 106,841 tonnes, worth an estimated $373 million. ATGA now predicts an increase of 20,000 tonnes to China in the next two to three years.

The agreed revisions, relating to fumigation and cold treatment, will allow for exports directly into China.

“In particular new markets will be opened up in northern China, servicing what are known as second tier cities,” said Mr Scott. “The revisions to fumigation post-harvest and the introduction of four days cold treatment are a game changer because it will open up a whole new market in China for our growers and they will be able to deliver to market after only 4 days.”

“Also of note is the move to allow 18 days cold storage at 3 degrees. Previously growers have had to cold store for 21 days at 2.1 degrees,” said Mr Scott. “This change will facilitate greater flexibility in transportation of produce to market and assist growers to meet customer demands in a timelier manner.”

The revisions also recognise the Riverland as a Pest Free Area, meaning that growers in that region can now air freight without having to undertake post-harvest treatment.

For more information:
Richard Lomman
Australia Table Grape Association
M: +61 427 791 748



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