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Imported grapes in China achieve same price as in Australia

The weather in Australia is affecting fruit and vegetable production at the moment, but for the grape growers it just means a bit of a delay.

"In western Australia the early season crop is looking good," according to Ben Tanner from Fresh Produce Group. "On the eastern coast fruit is a bit light and in the south we are just getting bunch emergence now but it is looking pretty good, the growing conditions have been good."
"We will start the harvest in Carnarvon, North western Australia soon, the season runs from November through to early January. Overall the grape season has been delayed by the cold wet spring which pushed harvest back by around two weeks
The Fresh Produce Group has 300ha in Mildura, Victoria of this, 80-90% will be exported to Asia. China is the main destination but they ship to many markets including Thailand, Japan and Indonesia. In 2015 Fresh Produce group entered into a JV with prominent WA grower Roger Fahl to form Fruitico Pty Ltd. The Fruitico business grows and markets in excess of three hundred thousand cartons of premium quality high flavour table grapes as well as seedless mandarins and gold kiwi fruit all of which are suited to the growing Asian market.

"We are licensed to grow Sun World varieties in WA and also varieties from the SNFL and IFG breeding programs across Australia. We grow predominately for the Asian and domestic market, so sweet, low acid varieties. Also good, strong varieties which can withstand shipping to these markets."
On a recent trip to China, Ben was pleased to see that high quality imported grapes in China are achieving the same or higher prices as grapes on the Australian market.
There is competition everywhere, "In Peru they produce very good grapes, but where we can differentiate from growers there is with our difference in day and night temperatures which give us very high quality, sweet grapes."

Australia has high labour costs so need to be at the top end of the market, they are known for their high quality and have a proven track record for clean green fruit. There is a certain demographic in China who are willing to pay a premium for the imported fruit, this is also true for other commodities, for example baby milk.

There are more people moving into this demographic, according to Ben. "Ten years ago it was different, they were looking for cheaper grapes, seeded varieties, now they are looking for seedless grapes with better taste."

For more information:
Ben Tanner
Fresh Produce Group
Tel: +61 89410 1595

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