Cherry picking at Koala Cherries located in Yarck Victoria, started on the 7th of November, a week earlier that average. Good soil moisture throughout spring and drier conditions than usual since harvest granted excellent growing conditions this year.
With the excellent growing conditions, there are no worries about quality or taste. While crop volume is a little lighter than expected, down 25% from standard, fruit size is a size up from previous normal harvest. “A likely result of less fruit per tree and healthy trees. We think this will continue,” said Michael Rouget, Managing Director of Koala Cherries.
The demand for good quality fruit is good in the domestic market. The cost-of-living pressure will influence the market, but to what extent remains uncertain. “Cherries are always regarded as a treat, and we see early demand that reinforces that people are willing to pay for quality also.”
With the season starting a week earlier, this year Koala Cherries is ideally situated for the Christmas demand. “Christmas is huge for us. Regularly we see a 200-300% demand increase from all our customers domestically. Export also increases for Christmas too but not to the same levels as locally,” Rouget said. The early start has helped to ensure that a larger volume of cherries is readily available for the demand of Christmas week.
Koala Cherries traditionally export to Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Vietnam. “We plan to send fruit to China and South Korea once we begin the firmer, more suitable varieties. That should start this week,” Rouget said. Australian cherries are ideally located to supply these markets given that it only takes 8 – 10 hours for supply to reach destination with relatively inexpensive flights. “Our advantage is freshness and regular, consistent supply to retailers, that allows them to react to sales demand.”
The usual cherry export competitor, Chile, is facing difficulties from the weather at the start of their season granting an early window opportunity for Australian Cherries to fill the market before the bulk of Chilean sea freight starts to impact the export market.