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Phil Pyke, Fruit Growers Tasmania

Taz tigers to land in Shanghai this week

Since 2012/13 cherries have been the largest export from Tasmania in the fruit sense, particularly into China. However, this week a container of 1365 cartons of striped (Tiger) Fuji apples will land in Shanghai - the first container of Australian (Tasmanian) apples to do so since access was granted in 2011. Earlier this year cartons of Tasmanian apples were airlifted into China - the first apples to land there. The Tiger Fuji is grown on one property in Geeveston (Scott Bros) south of Hobart and was bred by the grower as an export apple. More recently one of the growers has began to export their range of ciders into Asia.

"Over time Australia's traditional markets have changed - from the UK, USA and now Asia is the focus particularly Japan, China, Korea and Taiwan as major markets. However interest is growing also from Indonesia as well," explains Phil Pyke from Fruit Growers Tasmania. "While overseas interest is predominately in cherries and apples, Asian interest is growing in berries, particularly with blue berries. This is due to the pest free status of Tasmania around fruit fly."

Fruit Growers Tasmania was created out of the amalgamation between two key horticultural bodies in 2004 - the Tasmanian Stone Fruit Association and the Tasmanian Apple and Pear Growers Association. The amalgamation provided the opportunity for enhanced representation on behalf of the grower members.

"Since the British settlement of Tasmania in 1804, fruit production has been an important part of the State’s economy. Over the past 100 years, the Tasmanian fruit industry rose to a strong international position with exports to the United Kingdom, particularly with apples and pears," said Pyke. In the 1960’s the industry rapidly declined as the United Kingdom joined the European Economic Community and the demand for Tasmanian apples dried up.

The industry has been through a number of transitions which has seen the huge numbers of apple and pear growers decline. However, old industries such as soft fruits (strawberries, blue berries, raspberries and blackberries) have been resurrected on a much larger scale and new industries established - such as cherries.

Membership across the pome, berry and cherry sectors is around 150 members and approximately 65 Associate members.

The Association has a volunteer Board made up of grower representatives plus two full-time and one part-time staff members. It is funded through a number of ways including membership fees, sponsorships and project funding under Horticulture Australia. Member fees are kept low in order to allow small and medium growers to become part of the Association.

FGT is very hands on amongst the grower community, managing export registrations, export training days, State conference, field days and training sessions for each sector. "We assist in media and communications, producing a quarterly magazine, Fruit Grower Tasmania and e-newsletters. We are also strong advocates for the national bodies, such as APAL (Apple and Pear Australia) Australian Blue Berry Growers Assoc (ABGA), Summer Fruits Australia, Strawberries Australia and Raspberries and Blackberries Australian (RABA) as well as having a strong relationship with the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association," states Pyke.

"We also conduct agri-political representation on behalf of the growers at the local, state and federal levels and work with growers and government agencies to solve issues as they arise. FGT liaised with the federal Dept of Agriculture and Quarantine Tasmania around the required inspections for export countries and hosts overseas government and buying delegations."

Members of FGT are strongly supported by the industry body and get regular updates or access to subsidised training through the TAFE system. The unique point of Tasmania’s fruit growing community is it is built on generational growing families which brings a level of respect and cooperation between growers who are otherwise main competitors.

Fruit Growers Tasmania will be heading to Asia Fruit Logisitica where we host a stand to enable growers to liaise with current customers and meet new ones. We will also have an area focusing on investment opportunities in Tasmanian agriculture.

For more information:
Phil Pyke
Fruit Growers Tasmania
Email: [email protected]
Tel: 0061 407 203 318