AU: Cherries in strong demand over holiday season

Australian cherry growers are preparing for a busy Christmas period, with demand likely to outweigh supply for the rest of the season.

Koala Cherries co-founder Michael Rouget says an earlier than usual season has affected the supply volumes in the lead-up to Christmas, but that cherries grown at higher elevations are ripe for the picking.

“So far the market has been slow from oversupply…the bulk of produce came a week to 10 days early, and that leads to shorter supply around Christmas."

“We have a late-producing farm at higher elevation that normally comes in after Christmas and we’ve just started harvesting there as well," he says

Koala Cherries farm more than 200 hectares of cherries and produce volumes of between 1500 to 2000 tonnes annually. The company has three growing regions in Victoria: two at 250 meters above sea level (Cobram and Yarck) and one at 650 meters above sea level in Strathbogie.

“We’d normally go through til the 15th of January [in Strathbogie], but we’ll probably only get to the 5th of January this year,” Mr Rouget says.

“So that means more cherries sold in the pre-Christmas period. That’s one of the reasons we have the late-growing area, because it gives us an advantage over other growers.”

He says the weather has been good for cherries, with lots of warm, sunny days and not too much rain (which can cause damage to some of the fruit).

“The quality’s excellent and the flavour is great, so it’s good from that perspective too.”

Koala Cherries supplies markets and supermarkets along the Eastern seaboard of Australian (Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland), and also exports to countries including Singapore, Hong Kong, India, Italy, France and Canada.

Mr Rouget says they have production schedules that mean some exported shipments can be received within a day of picking.

“We can have cherries in Hong Kong before they’re in the Brisbane Market. For a highly perishable product like cherries that’s important,” he says.

“It also allows us to let cherries ripen on tree more before being picked to maximise flavour.”

Mr Rouget says the company’s export process and a lower Australian dollar has helped create a stronger export market, with really strong orders expected for the rest of the season.

For more information
Michael Rouget
Koala Cherries
Tel: +61 419 314 303

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