Tasmania may be part of Australia, but as Phil Pyke of Fruit Growers Tasmania explains, there are a few differences when it comes to fruit production and exports.
“The main advantage enjoyed by Tasmania is its fruitfly free status which gives the exporters direct access to China without having to undergo cold treatment which sometimes damage the fruit,” explains Pyke.
This year, the first shipment of Tasmanian apples was air-freighted to China from Hansen Orchards, followed by the first container of Tasmanian Tiger Fuji apples, grown by Scott Brothers and exported by Hansen Orchards, the largest grower in Tasmania. According to Pyke, these exports have generated strong interest from the Chinese market.
With the exception of stone fruit, all other fruit is seeing rapid expansion in Tasmania. One grower alone is planting 100,000 new apple trees over the next three years. This is directed at the Asian markets but also at the domestic market.
“Tastes are changing from old varieties such as Red Delicious into modern varieties and access to the export markets is vital to absorb this growth. Our berry growers are not traditional exporters but there are opportunities in Thai markets and we are holding workshops for the growers to help them develop an export understanding, including on the requirements of each protocol.
“We have just carried out a full skills analysis to help all our growers for the future in the skills area and we recently had a visit from the President of China to Tasmania. The Tasmanian Government and the Shaanxi Government have signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding to discuss potential cooperation for training of Chinese apple growers from Shaanxi province, the biggest apple growing region in China.
The potential around the cooperation could see Chinese farmers training in Tasmania to learn growing techniques which produce a premium product while learning what standards are expected by the Chinese market.”
Tasmania has 68,000 km² of land and a population of just 500,000, it is situated ‘on the edge of the world’ and has a great climate for fruit production.