Australia has successfully exported its first shipment of persimmons to Thailand under a new protocol negotiated by the federal Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.
The shipment left Brisbane, Australia on Wednesday, 25 March, on one of the few remaining flights to Bangkok, Thailand, following the grounding of many international carriers in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic.
First trial shipment of Australian sweet persimmons arrive in Thailand under the new protocol.
The safe arrival and clearance of the product in Thailand on Friday, 27 March marks a significant step forward for the persimmon industry and the entire horticulture industry, as the first shipment of any fresh produce from Australia to Thailand using chemical and heat free phytosanitary irradiation.
Queensland’s persimmon grower, Ross Stuhmcke, is blazing a new trail for the industry with this first shipment.
“It has been far from an ideal season, with the drought and then rain during harvest but we were very committed to making this happen. This is an exciting opportunity for the persimmon industry and all horticulture industries”.
Despite the persimmon industry’s size, it is paving the way for this new pathway into Thailand for Queensland and Australian horticulture.
Thailand imports around $23 million of persimmons each year – including from Japan and New Zealand. Persimmons are fat free, naturally high in fibre and a good source of vitamin C, which appeals to increasingly health-conscious Thai consumers. This protocol gives the Australian industry an opportunity to carve out a share of this market.
Queensland persimmon grower, Ross Stuhmcke prepares a consignment of his delicious fruit for a trial shipment bound for Thailand.
“What has been impressive with this trial is the real partnership between industry, government, the grower and the importer. All have played an important role in its success” Mr Stuhmcke said.
This achievement has involved strong collaboration from all levels of government, including the Queensland Department of Agriculture, Trade and Investment Queensland, Austrade, the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, as well as the private sector.
Chris Stillard, President of Persimmons Australia is hoping that the success of this shipment will lead to the protocol being extended to other states - current only Queensland persimmons have access to Thailand – as well as other categories of Australian horticulture.
“This is a positive example of state and federal governments working together in a cohesive manner to ensure the requirements of the protocol have been met at the farm right through to the importer in Thailand”.
“It has not been an easy task to achieve this first shipment, there are a lot of steps in the chain from the farm to the market. However, now that we have proven this pathway and with hopefully better weather conditions next year, we are looking forward to doing an extended trial in 2021”.
The shipment has afforded an opportunity to build relationships and expertise from the grower through to importer using a whole of supply chain approach to successfully export irradiated persimmons to Thailand.
“Phytosanitary irradiation has been growing in both regulated acceptance and use around the world as a safe, fast and effective alternative to other heat and chemical based processes,” says Ben Reilly from Steritech, the treatment provider.
Australian sweet persimmons exported to Thailand under the new protocol were well received by supermarkets.
“As markets seek fresher, higher quality fruit to meet increasing consumer demands, Australia has been a leader in the development and application of phytosanitary irradiation. It is being used to facilitate two-way trade between Australia and Thailand, expanding Australia’s export opportunities while also protecting them from foreign pests.”
With the fruit from this first shipment sold out shortly after arrival, it will also provide the industry with invaluable buyer and consumer feedback to assist with marketing of next year’s harvest.
For information about delicious Australian persimmons visit www.persimmonsaustralia.com.au