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Australia to substantially increase Japanese grape exports

The grape harvest has already started in Queensland, Australia. Mid November saw the start of the early season grape harvest and harvesting will progress through the different regions as the season progresses. By the end of December, beginning of January, Sunraysia, the main grape growing region in Australia will be harvesting. This is where the majority of export grapes come from.

Jeff Scott from the Australian Table Grape Association spoke to FreshPlaza at China FVF in Beijing, "It looks like we will have a big crop of Emerald which will mean a lot of fruit on the domestic market, Sunraysia is expecting a good year, not a large crop, but a good average crop."

So far the weather has been kind, with no rain or hail events and warm days with cool nights which will bring on the sugars and colours, Scott commented,"We could always get a heatwave or something but fingers crossed for a good quality year."

The estimate is similar to last year at 160,000 tonnes, 50% of which will go for export.

Among the export markets is mainland China, which was difficult last year according to Scott, but this season it is looking better this year as the Chinese New Year falls late and is ideal for the Australian Crimson grape exports.

"Chile is 1-2 weeks later than us so we can get in first, we can't compete on price with the Chileans but we do get a higher price for our grapes, as we are well known for our sweet grapes and so far people have been willing to pay more for them."

Scott is confident that they can expand exports to Japan this season. Last year they started exporting there halfway through the season and sent just 16 containers, this season it should be as much as 100 containers. Australia can only send Thompsons seedless, Crimson and Red Globe to Japan according to the protocol, this said Scott, "Is great for our Thompsons as the quality is extremely high."

The country is also in the final steps of an agreement with Korea, which would be a great opportunity for them.

As for the situation with Vietnam, "At this stage they are indicating that they want further discussions. Just now everything is continuing as normal, but there is a need for discussion. Import permits are still being issued but there is a deadline of 1st January when the discussions will have needed to have taken place and the issues which Vietnam have raised with us will need to be resolved. They are citing a few things which the two governments are talking about now," concludes Scott.