Mainland cherries shown in China

Australian mainland cherries shown off in China

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Mainland cherries have been given a marketing boost at Chinese trade shows.

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CHINESE cherry importers became more acquainted product from the Australian mainland last month.

Two trade events held in Guangzhou and Shanghai saw Australian cherry growers and industry representatives celebrate the partnership and share industry insights with key distributor, importer and retail partners.

Mainland growers have completed their first full season of trade via airfreight with China since being granted market access.

A survey of event attendees highlighted the freshness, quality and taste as the key differentiating characteristics of Australian cherries.

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Around 92 per cent of attendees cited freshness via airfreight as the key reason for purchasing Australian cherries for Chinese consumers.

The events were hosted under the Hort Innovation Taste Australia banner.

The trade events took place despite recent criticism from some mainland growers over the lack of opportunities Free Trade Agreements have provided. 

Last December, Cherry Growers Australia president, Tom Eastlake, who farms in the NSW district of Young, said non-tariff trade barriers had been the most pressing issue for the mainland industry for more than two decades.

Until last year, when mainland growers gained access to China, they were unable to export to any of the nations currently open to Tasmania.

Mr Eastlake said growers were now able to access China but had to fumigate their fruit, making the market less attractive. 

He said free trade deals touted as ‘big wins for cherry growers’ had in fact delivered no improvement in market access for mainland growers who faced export restrictions due to pest concerns.

“Those free trade deals didn’t do anything for us,” he said.

“It is wonderful to have those agreements but we can’t use them because we don’t have any access.

“Tariffs are a hurdle when it comes to trade but there are ways to get around them. But non-trade barriers will actually stop you trading.”

Cherry Growers Australia president, Tom Eastlake.

Cherry Growers Australia president, Tom Eastlake.

Hort Innovation acting trade-lead, Dianne Phan, said the most recent season represented a major milestone in trade relations and a “win win” for both nations.

“China is Australia’s largest two-way trading partner, with the market for Australian horticultural exports to China rising from $13 million in 2010 to over $500 million in 2017,” she said.

“Chinese consumers now have access to Australia’s full season of cherry availability.

"The number and variety of Australian cherries entering China have increased, traders and consumers have more choices, and the supply opportunities for high-quality imported fruits has also expanded.”

Ms Phan said exporting the produce via air freight meant that Australian cherries could be picked and packed fresh from the farm and available for purchase in Chinese retailers from 96 hours post-harvest.

Australian cherries are grown across six states, producing around 16,000 tonnes per annum.

Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania are the largest cherry growing regions and provide complementary supply windows.

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