Australian citrus feels effect of more South African fruit in China
Richard Byllaardt from the company said they are now in the running for the National Regional Exporter Award against all other state finalists, which will be announced in late November.
For Sevenfields, the citrus season is drawing to a close, oranges are just finishing in the Sunraysia region and lemon harvest will commence in January, from their Katherine farms in the Northern Territory. Byllaardt said it had looked to be a very promising season, but fruit quality issues due to windy weather and then several frost events reduced the amount of fruit available to export. This, plus South Africa having problems with shipping to Europe due to the Citrus Black Spot issues, therefore sending more fruit than usual to China just compounded the problem.
"South Africa has much lower labour costs than Australia, meaning they can supply citrus cheaper than us, plus we also have very strict protocols to meet in China which also adds to costs. Australia has only been exporting citrus direct to China for three years and this year was the first year substantial volumes were sent. As exporters we though China would be another great market for us, but with South Africa likely to increase volumes there it is going to make it more difficult for us. We will continue to send fruit to China, but also concentrate on our core markets, which are Japan and the US and other South East Asian countries," he said. “The UK and EU are also very important markets for us, and with South Africa having difficulties in sending fruit here, it opens up more opportunities for us” explains Byllaardt.
Seven Fields will also continue to send mandarins to the UK, last year they sent 70 containers, this year it will be substantially less due to less fruit available, but Byllaardt hopes to have volumes back up to 70 containers again next year.
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