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Fruit exporters' frustrating season

Anna Vidot, Tuesday December 24, 2013 - 13:16 EDT

Frustrated fruit exporters say a poor growing season has almost halved potential exports to Asia, leaving Australia unable to capitalise on a falling dollar and a shortage of fruit in the Asian market.

Chile is normally Australia's biggest competitor into Asia, but growers there suffered a shocking season that's substantially reduced their cherry exports.

Unfortunately, Australian fruit growers have also had a bad season, resulting in reduced crops and smaller-sized fruit, which is less desirable on the export market.

Chairman of the Australian Horticultural Exporters' Council, David Minnis, says the falling dollar is helping exporters, but it's a frustrating situation.

"We appreciate the dollar coming down, we're certainly more competitive in the market, but we haven't quite been able to deliver the volumes to the market that we would like," Mr Minnis said.

"Let's hope that after Christmas when we come into some really important export varieties, that we've got a bit of size in the fruit, but I would say that exports are down probably 40 or 50 per cent on what we would have liked to have shipped."

He says the South Australian cherry crop was down by 60 or 70 per cent because of frosts and a lack of chilling in the winter months and there were also disappointing crops in parts of Victoria.

Peaches and nectarines produced this season were smaller than usual because of the cooler conditions.

"In Asia, if they are going to buy stone fruit, they are looking for fairly large sizes."

"That's the nature of trading in fruit, unfortunately, you are very climate dependent and you've just got to be patient.

"You can't force the buyers to buy something they don't want.

"It has affected our incomes, we haven't shipped as much as we would have liked.

"What's even more frustrating is our main competitor, Chile, had extremely cold temperatures in Spring, they got down to minus eight, and that's reduced their crops."


© ABC 2013

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