Shipping delays and lockdowns continue to hamper fruit exports around the world, the knock-on effect is making market demand very different to other seasons.
“Citrus export has been very challenging this season due to a lot of factors,” explains Sam Vasala from Australian fruit exporter Sai World. “Vessel delays out of the US and Egypt and delays at ports have pushed everything back as there is still of US and Egyptian fruit around when normally it would been have sold, but it’s actually still arriving on the markets. Lock downs means that more fruit has been stored in some markets too.”
“Vietnam didn’t buy as much Australian fruit this season and we had political issues with China, which appear to be softening, but China used to buy 50,000 tonnes of citrus from Australia, that is a huge amount to find alternative markets for.”
According to Sam, in India there is still Egyptian citrus arriving and it is nearly September. “The quality is not great from Egypt anymore but they are repacking it and its cheaper than Australian and South African fruit. Also, volumes from Egypt were up 30% this season.
“We have had good consistent orders from Japan, Korea, Canada and Malaysia and have done pretty well in those markets.”
This year Sai World started a trial of packing for individual markets and customers the packing was done with Devlin’s Pound Farm.
“We asked the customer exactly what they wanted and packed to that specification. This is the way we are going as we reckon this is the only way to compete on the international markets. It has been a difficult year to start a trial though as the whole trade is so different from other years, but it seems to be going well.”
“We also introduced a double dip of waxing and fungicide at packing in preparation for the longer sea voyages. It has worked well so far where we are seeing a lot less issues with arrival quality issues with Devlin’s.”
In eight weeks’ time Sai World will start with the early cherry harvest, according to Sam the trees are looking good so far.
“We will do 100% airfreight on our exports, this will be challenging as the costs are high and the markets are uncertain, as other countries cope with the virus, but I still believe that whatever the circumstances premium fruit will always sell, whether it is citrus, stone fruit, cherries or grapes.”