THE future growth of the $60 million Orange cherry industry could rest with a batch of 17,000 cherries sent from a local packing shed in January.
The first trial shipment of cherries was sent to Brisbane to be irradiated to eliminate any trace of fruit fly before being flown to Indonesia.
It is the first step in a $340,000 two-year pilot project that could open markets throughout south-east Asia.
NSW Farmers Orange branch chairman Bruce Reynolds said the local industry had been trying for two years to crack new Asian markets.
“One of our biggest challenges is Queensland fruit fly. It’s a real problem for our local industry as we are not permitted to export into a number of countries because of (it),” he said.
“The monitoring is showing there is no Queensland fruit fly in this area but we are trying to make sure.
“Those fruit that are leaving this packing house today here in Orange will arrive in Indonesia in about two days time. They will be flying out of Brisbane airport.
“A lot rides on this trial. If we can succeed with this trial then we will potentially open up several other south-east Asian markets which could be quite substantial when it comes to the value of exports.
“Potentially in this area over the next decade it could lead to a doubling in the amount of fruit that is sent out of this area, a number of trees would be planted if we are able to open these markets.”
He said too many cherries were grown in NSW for the domestic market and overseas business was needed to keep local growers afloat.
“We have a glut in a lot of years. We also have a high demand from a lot of these Asian countries for cherries so what we are trying to do is marry up the demand with the excess fruit we have on the domestic market.”
NSW Cherry Growers Association president and Orange orchardist Fiona Hall said Indonesia was a growing market for local producers.
“There is a lot of growing middle class in Indonesia and they’re wanting western-style culture, western-style foods. Cherries are very renowned over there as a gift. It’s quite prestigious. As that middle class keeps growing then there’s a lot more opportunities for cherries.”
Mrs Hall said they also wanted to capitalise on the Chinese New Year being earlier than normal in 2017 while Orange growers were still picking late fruit.
“This area is getting quite renowned for its good quality fruit and there are lot of Chinese exporters that have been around this district for the last few weeks and they are going into every shed and offering to buy fruit,” she said.