Fruit trade could be caught up in trade war

Peak bodies warn proposed tariffs on Chinese products could come back to bite US suppliers

Industry bodies in the US have raised concerns over what proposed tariffs on Chinese imports could mean for their own trade to the People’s Republic.

US President Donald Trump has suggested US$60bn in annual tariffs could be imposed on over 1,300 Chinese products bound for the North American nation. The move comes in retaliation to allegations of intellectual property theft and the desire to boost local employment in the US.

Speaking with the Yakima Herald, Mark Powers, president of the Northwest Horticultural Council, asked what the outcomes would be for US fruit growers and exporters.

“The question is, how does China react?” Powers said. “For us, China is an important export market.”

China is the largest importer of cherries from Washington State, taking 3m cartons in 2017, while it is also a top five market for the state’s apple suppliers.

Should Trump’s proposal come to fruition, economic experts expect China to impose their own tariffs on US products. Fresh produce products would be a prime candidate for such action based on their contribution to the US economy, according to Washington Apple Commission president Todd Fryhover, who was also interviewed by the Yakima Herald.

Fryhover said the apple industry was keen to avoid a repeat of a similar scenario in 2010, which saw Mexico impose a 20 per cent tariff on Washington apples following a dispute relating to trucking.

“We often see ourselves in the apple industry as being collateral damage,” Fryhover told the Yakima Herald.

China announces tariffs on US fruit

China has announced a proposed 15 per cent import duty on US fresh fruit and nuts in response to Trump's planned tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminium

China has announced proposed tariffs on US goods worth US$3bn – including a 15 per cent duty on fresh fruit and nuts – in response to US levies on Chinese steel and aluminium imports, according to various reports.

US fruit categories affected by China's proposed tariffs include cherries, citrus, grapes, apples and pears (see full list below).

If the tariffs come to fruition, they could make trade difficult for US fruit exporters to China, pundits said.

China is the largest importer of cherries from the US state of Washington, taking 3m cartons in 2017, while it is also a top five market for the state's apple suppliers.

Washington Apple Commission president Todd Fryhover told the Yakima Herald this week that the apple industry was keen to avoid a repeat of a similar scenario in 2010, which saw Mexico impose a 20 per cent tariff on Washington apples following a dispute over trucking.

China responded to news earlier this month of President Trump’s planned steel and aluminium tariffs by saying that, while it did not want a trade war, it was "absolutely not afraid" of one, the BBC said.

"If things get very nasty, they can make life very difficult for US companies doing business in China," Deborah Elms, executive director of the Asian Trade Centre in Singapore, told the BBC.

Fears of a trade war today pushed Asian stock markets down sharply, with shares also trading lower in Europe and the UK on the morning of Friday 23 March.

Trump's aluminium and steel import tariffs are a response to allegations of intellectual property theft by China, and a desire to boost local employment in the US.

The US president has railed against the US trade deficit of about US$375bn with China. He said he had asked the Asian country to cut that deficit by $100bn "immediately".

The list of US fruit and nut categories affected by China's proposed tariffs include: citrus (oranges, mandarins, clementines, tangelos etc, grapefruit, pomelo, lemon, limes); grapes; melons; papayas; apples; pears; quince; stonefruit (cherries, nectaries, peaches, plums); berries (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, cranberries); kiwifruit; durians; persimmons; pomegranates; dragonfruit; starfruit; lychees; sapota; custard apples; bore/jujube; starfruit; bananas; avocados; dates; figs; pineapples; guavas; coconuts; and several types of nut (brazil, cashew and others).

Source: Author: Luisa Cheshire

Biosecurity fears due to Australian Department of Agriculture and Water staff cuts

Australian Horticultural Exporters and Importers Association (AHEIA) chief executive Dominic Jenkin claims a staff increase at the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is an “absolute priority” for horticulture to maintain import and export biosecurity.

He told the value of horticulture exports had risen 107% in the past five years, but the number of staff at the Department dropped by 7% in the same period.

This means the Department could not keep pace with anticipated growth in agricultural trade and the related import and export task. This led to the winding down of services including Offshore Pre-shipment Inspections. “Previously, we would have sent government inspectors off shore to inspect the fruit before it arrives,” said Jenkin. “But recently, due to staffing caps, they have been reducing staff to cost-recovered projects.”

Mr Jenkins cited produce from New Zealand and the US, which would once have been inspected before it left, and if a pest was found the shipment could be sent to another market or used domestically. “Now these pre-shipment inspections are being wound down; inspections are done in Australia, where it would be costly to re-route and it might have to be fumigated, destroyed or reconditioned.”

A Department spokesman said offshore pre-shipment inspection was only one means of verifying produce met Australia’s import conditions and was only offered to certain commodities from two countries. “The majority of horticultural fresh pathways are not inspected under OPI.”

Publication date: 1/11/2018


Strong start for Australian Mango season

The select U.S. importers that are handling Australian mangoes are optimistic for the commodity which is now in its fourth year in the market, but in reality this is the second commercial campaign under more favorable protocols.

At Fresh Fruit Portal we caught up with Australian Mango Industry Association (AMIA) marketing manager Treena Welch during the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) Fresh Summit event in New Orleans this month, along with two leading importers of the fruit.

“We’ve experienced great interest from all industry participants – the National Mango Board, importers and retailers – and especially at store level where produce staff are receiving feedback from consumers regarding the great flavor of Australian mangoes,” Welch said.

She said the industry exported 80 metric tons (MT) of mangoes last season and there were expectations for growth from the eight participating mango farms in 2017-18.

The inclusion of Northern Territory fruit since last season also means the program can start two or three weeks earlier.

The AMIA representative also explained the industry’s approach to export mangoes to the U.S. through a limited number of channels.

“The primary objective in the early days is to focus on developing a supply chain capability that consistently delivers a good quality experience for U.S. customers with every mango, every time.

“To do this we have elected to minimize the number of points we supply through.”

Giumarra vice president for the Southern Hemisphere, Craig Uchizono, told Fresh Fruit Portal this would be the fourth season for his company representing the Calypso mango variety, and this season there would also be expansion into other cultivars.

“Now we are representing another fantastic grower with the R2E2s and the Kensington Prides, so we’re very excited about that,” Uchizono said.

“Considering the first shipment just arrived, we’re super excited. We’ve been visiting with our customers and they’re all equally excited.

“The varieties themselves are all unique – the Kensington Pride has its own flavor profile, the R2E2s have their own flavor profile, the Calypso has its own flavor profile. The only thing that I can tell you is whenever we eat a mango from Australia, the first word that comes out of everybody’s mouth is “wow” – what an experience.

He said that “wow” factor helped introduce Australian mangoes as a source of origin to American consumers.

“It’s not like we’re just selling mangoes – we’re really introducing Australia as a country to a consumer who really doesn’t have the opportunity to go to Australia,” he said.

“I think the volume will probably continue the same. My hope and my dream is that we’re going to see this thing just take off.

“I think there’s going to be great opportunity as consumers in the United States start to recognize the fruit. I think you’re going to see this turn into a very nice business for Australia.”

Uchizono’s comments were echoed by Melissa’s Produce director of public relations Robert Schueller in a media presentation on trending products in the produce industry.

“Even though mangoes are available here in the United States year-round, the quieter time here for mangoes is from late September through about April,” he said.

“Come April, May, June, July, it’s the peak mango season because we have all these different varieties; different prices, very competitive.

“But during the fall and winter months, not so competitive and we usually only have Tommy Atkins, every once in a while you see a Keitt or a Kent, and the mangoes are what I’d call sub-par.”

He added that as Australian mangoes didn’t need to be heat-treated, they didn’t need to be picked “super early” like a some other sources of origin.

“The grower doesn’t pick until it hits a certain brix [sweetness] level which is typically really high like 16-18, when in a typical U.S. market for the Tommy Atkins that come in at this time until the spring it’s usually brixing at 12; very mild, more tart than sweet sometimes.

“So on a taste profile, for the time of the season here in the United States when mangoes aren’t spectacular, we now have these spectacular varieties like the Kensington Pride, the E2E2, and we even do a Keitt.”

Speaking with Fresh Fruit Portal at the National Mango Board (NMB) reception, a specialty importer of mangoes from India and Pakistan argued his company would be an ideal distributor of Australian mangoes.

Jaidev Sharma of said around 60% of his customers were from the Indian subcontinent, 20% were American, and actually about 5% were Australian expats living in the United States.

“We have very niche customers who appreciate mangoes; we could potentially sell the mangoes to them because Australian mangoes are also very good. If it was available, we could do that,” said Jaidev Sharma of

“I guess the first thing that needs to happen is everybody needs to have access to the fruit and then we can sell it.”

Strong start for NT Mango season

Northern Australia has kicked off a 'great' mango season, with almost 4 million trays expected to be dispatched from Darwin, Katherine and Kununurra by mid-December, according to the Australian Mango Industry Association.

In Darwin, there have been reports of some isolated showers delaying some picking, although the impact has not been significant. Due to the earlier start, many growers across this region are starting to finish, meaning volume is expected to steadily decrease overall in coming weeks.

It is a different story in Kununurra and Katherine with small volumes dispatched so far, but volumes are set to increase in coming weeks. While in Carnarvon, harvest is expected to start later than last year (mid-January), with some spot picking may occur in late December. Currently there are reports of pea size fruit and cooler weather in this region.

In Queensland, some growers have begun to spot pick, with the main harvest expected to take place from mid-November in the Bowen/Burdekin region. While further north in the Mareeba and Dimbulah regions there has been some rain in the region in the past week and there are still mixed reports on expected volumes, depending on variety. Some growers will start spot picking in November, with most to harvest during December.

It is a little too early to tell how the significant the rainfall in South East Queensland may impact growers in the region. Early reports suggest there has not been any major impact to volume, but a clearer picture will be known in coming weeks.

On the retail markets, mangoes have been selling for between $2.50 and $3.00 a piece.

Meanwhile, Australian Mangoes featured at the recent PMA Fresh Summit in New Orleans, which attracted over 20,000 visitors. It comes in the third year of the export pilot program between the United States and the Australian Mango Industry, and the event provided an opportunity to engage with growers, exporters, importers and retailers.

The AMIA says the experience encouraged and fostered collaboration, as it "continues a marketing focus on developing a supply chain that consistently delivers a quality mango experience for American consumers, and ensuring retail displays are filled with fresh mangoes that are packed with that unique Australian flavour".

Mango growers in South East Queensland are invited to attend the next round of the Pre-Season Roadshows on Thursday November 16 at Sunnyvale in Benaraby, hosted by Ian and Gloria Pershouse.

For more information:
Australian Mango Industry Association
Phone: +61 7 3278 3755

Publication date: 10/25/2017

Author: Matthew Russell

Dracula blood oranges for USA Halloween

Australian exporter Pinnacle Fresh hopes to grow trade with branded offering over Halloween period

Australian-grown blood oranges will take pride of place on US retail shelves this Halloween, thanks to a new themed marketing campaign from Pinnacle Fresh.

The Melbourne-based exporter hopes to educate consumers about the key health benefits and nutritional value of the fruit through its new trademarked Dracula brand.

Pinnacle Fresh account manager Daniel Newport said the specially designed Dracula cartons are perfect for building eye-catching displays.

The offering will be made available to US retailers from the second week of September, aligning perfectly with Halloween celebrations.

Pinnacle Fresh hope children and their parents will be drawn to the Dracula brand, as it provides an alternative to the candy typically associated with Halloween.

“Since revealing the content to select buyers in the US, demand has been extremely encouraging,” Pinnacle Fresh explained in a release. “Major retailers are always looking for the next event to help capture market share, so it comes as no surprise that the Dracula brand has already sparked heavy interest.”

Newport said high-antioxidant fruits have hugely increased in popularity over the past two decades, meaning the time is right for blood oranges to take the spotlight.

Recent health research has shown blood oranges have nine times the antioxidant volume of navel oranges, and have the capacity to boost metabolism, improve the immune system, stimulate collagen and act as a natural anti-inflammatory.

Optimism after a few tough years for Australian strawberry growers

After another difficult summer season for Australian strawberry growers, the industry is hoping that the recent fruit quality over winter and the production of new varieties will translate into better prices.

Strawberry Australia chairman John Calle says weather events and recent economic conditions for the industry have made it tough for some, but he is hoping that will change in the near future.

"Production comes and goes, at one stage we had a lot of flowers, and then nothing for a little while," Mr Calle said. "That transpired on the price of strawberries at the end of the day. The volumes would have been average (this summer season). In my case I have done my average, but a lot of growers haven't. But the industry in general is going strong, and still growing strawberries, and good quality strawberries at this stage of the season."

Australia has two production areas, the Southern areas which produce for the summer season, as well as Western Australia and Queensland that produce throughout the middle of the year. The winter strawberries hit the markets last month, and retail markets have reported high quality fruit, and good sizes, despite having their own weather problems throughout autumn.

"The cyclone that they had up there washed out a few growers - quite a few actually," he said. "Bundaberg did not do too bad across the area. The Sunshine Coast is coming on now, meaning there is going to be a lot of strawberries in the next month or so while the plants are producing lots of strawberries. That could be a bit of a problem because the rest of Australia is in winter, and not many people eat strawberries in winter, or not to the extent they do in summer."

He says there is a new variety being grown in Queensland, with around 8 to 10 million plants of the Red Rapsedy variety. Mr Calle says it could almost double the amount of plants in the coming year.

The Strawberry Australia Chairman, who has also had a farm in Victoria for 35 years, says he along with others have exported small volumes of the fruit in the past to UK, Europe, Singapore, Hong Kong and other countries, but at the moment it is not a financially viable option.

"We do need to export because the country produces for 12 months of the year now," he said. "The best state in the position to do it is Western Australia, and also Queensland, but the price is just not there. We get a better price on the local market."

The year round production has also meant less reliance on imports. Mr Calle says there previously was a two month window between seasons and fruit was imported from New Zealand, and USA but it is now not worth it, because the local producers grow enough strawberries domestically.

"At the end of the day, the consumer looks for taste aroma and looks, and the grower looks for volume and quality to make money," Mr Calle said. "As an industry, that's what we have to work towards."

For more information:
John Calle
Strawberries Australia
Phone: +61 417 538 535

Publication date: 7/4/2017
Author: Matthew Russell

Image: Pixabay_kheinz 

Vietnam's fruit & veg exports to the US increase 45% to $1.7B

Vietnam’s export turnover of vegetables and fruits reached 283 million USD in June, bringing the figure in the first half of 2017 to 1.7 billion USD, up 45 percent from the same period last year.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, China, the US, Japan and the Republic of Korea remained the top four importers of Vietnamese vegetables and fruits, accounting for 85 percent of the total export value.

The country has enjoyed impressive growth in fruit and vegetable exports in some markets, including Russia (67 percent), Japan (56 percent), China (50 percent) and the US (23 percent), the RoK (15 percent) and Thailand (12 percent).

Recently, green mangoes grown in Son La province have been exported to Australia for the first time, opening up opportunities for agricultural production development, particularly fruit farming, in the northern mountainous region of Vietnam.

Le Son Ha, Head of the Plant Quarantine under the Plant Protection Department, said five tonnes of mangoes will be exported to Australia weekly, adding that this gives a boost for Vietnam’s fruits to enter new markets.

source: via 

Publication date: 7/3/2017

Image: Green mangoes - Flickr_Ruurmo