Persimmon export breaks new ground

Landmark shipment of persimmons to Thailand

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ARRIVAL: First shipment of Australian sweet persimmons arrive in Thailand under the new protocol. Photo: Persimmons Australia

ARRIVAL: First shipment of Australian sweet persimmons arrive in Thailand under the new protocol. Photo: Persimmons Australia

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Aussie persimmons are now on shelves in Thailand.

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THE sweet taste of Australian persimmons is now being enjoyed in Thailand after the the first shipment arrived on one of the last remaining flights out of country due to COVID-19 restrictions.

And no sooner had it hit the shelves in Thailand on March 27, the fruit (worth $23 million in imports) had sold out.

It was the first shipment of fresh produce from Australia to Thailand to use chemical and heat-free phytosanitary irradiation under a new protocol negotiated by the federal government.

The shipment marks a significant step forward for the persimmon industry, which has gone through a "far from ideal" season with drought, then rain during harvest.

READY: Queensland persimmon grower, Ross Stuhmcke prepares a consignment of his delicious fruit for the first shipment bound for Thailand. Photo: Persimmons Australia

READY: Queensland persimmon grower, Ross Stuhmcke prepares a consignment of his delicious fruit for the first shipment bound for Thailand. Photo: Persimmons Australia

"This is an exciting opportunity for the persimmon industry and all horticulture industries ... we were very committed to making this happen," said Queensland persimmon grower, Ross Stuhmcke, whose fruit was in the first shipment.

Currently only Queensland persimmons have access to Thailand, but Persimmons Australia president, Chris Stillard, hoped the success of the shipment would lead to the protocol being extended to other states.

"It has not been an easy task to achieve this first shipment; there are a lot of steps in the chain from the farm to the market," Mr Stillard said.

However, now that we have proven this pathway and with hopefully better weather conditions next year, we are looking forward to doing an extended trial in 2021."

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Ben Reilly from Steritech, the treatment provider, said phytosanitary irradiation had been growing in both regulated acceptance and use around the world as a safe, fast and effective alternative to heat and chemical-based processes.

"As markets seek fresher, higher quality fruit to meet increasing consumer demands, Australia has been a leader in the development and application of phytosanitary irradiation," Mr Reilly said.

"It is being used to facilitate two-way trade between Australia and Thailand, expanding Australia's export opportunities while also protecting them from foreign pests.

APPEALING: Australian sweet persimmons exported to Thailand under the new protocol were well received by supermarkets. Photo: Persimmons Australia

APPEALING: Australian sweet persimmons exported to Thailand under the new protocol were well received by supermarkets. Photo: Persimmons Australia

Agriculture minister, David Littleproud said the shipment showed the commitment to expanding market access for Australian agricultural products, even during unprecedented and challenging times.

"While our farmers and exporters face the challenges created by the drought and now COVID-19, they still managed to trial this new pathway to market," Mr Littleproud said.

"The shipment marks a major milestone for Australian farmers made possible through ongoing collaboration between industry, state and federal governments over close to seven years of negotiations."

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