Blueberry

Costa Group recognized for efforts in China

Costa Group has been announced as a finalist in the prestigious 25th Annual AustCham Westpac Australia-China Business Awards.

Nominated for the Business Excellence Award for Agriculture, Food & Beverage, Costa has been recognised for its operations in China with its focus on the development of large scale berry fruit (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries) farms in Honghe and Xishuangbanna Yunnan Province.

Costa’s investment to date represents one of the largest by a foreign owned company in Chinese agriculture in recent years with land secured for further expansion as demand in the market grows.

Costa was nominated for the award due to the success of its agricultural developments in China based on a number of key factors including:
The introduction of high tech growing and management systems
Recognition of key national agricultural policies focusing on sustainable production and improvement in the economic and social well-being of the local population
A strong and harmonious working relationship with local authorities
Implementation of safe and healthy work practices


Paul Lai, Westpac’s Regional Head and Head of Corporate & Institutional Banking Greater China said, “Given its size and incredible pace of transformation, it’s fantastic to see these Australian businesses that have worked hard to get their China strategy right, reaping the rewards and propelling their business forward.”

The presentation of the 25th Annual AustCham Westpac Australia-China Business Awards is to be made at a Gala Dinner in Shanghai on Thursday 17th May.

For more information:
Costa Group
Business Support Centre
275 Robinsons Road, Ravenhall
VIC 3023
T: 03 8363 9000
info@costagroup.com.au
www.costagroup.com.au

Publication date: 4/23/2018

 

Source: www.freshplaza.com

Image from http://costagroup.com.au

Australian berry industry preparing to host biggest ever conference

The Australian berry industry is preparing to welcome representatives from around the world, as it strengthens its export growth and potential.

Raspberries and Blackberries Australia (RABA) Executive Officer Jonathan Eccles says the global element to February’s BerryQuest International 2018, goes beyond just having speakers and guests from overseas across the four major berry categories; strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries.

"The berry industry has grown in the past 10 years to the point where we have interest from local growers in exporting and the keen interest from overseas markets," Mr Eccles said. "So that's where the theme for the conference comes from. We've got over 35 exhibitors and so far our attendance is reaching 320, which makes it the biggest berry conference ever held in Australia."

Representatives will travel from the United States, United Kingdom, Mexico, Netherlands, Spain, New Zealand, Korea, and China, and with the berry season in full swing, there will be plenty of in-season berries for attendees to enjoy. However, Mr Eccles admits that it has been a tough season for raspberry and blackberry growers during summer.

"The summer season, which starts in November, started off pretty well then we got this horrendous hot weather," he said. "It was surprising how humid it was and that caused problems itself. There were also some very hot days of 40 degrees, which slows down the productivity of the plants. It doesn't seem to be over yet with the heat still hitting us this week."

It is not just the heat that has affected the berries, with diseases such as grey mould. Bugs such as myriads have been damaging fruit while trying to seek shelter from the heat in the crops. They also become contaminants in the punnets.

But the RABA Executive Officer says that the effects felt by these incidents are balanced out by an increase in production across the board.

"What we have seen is a slight reduction in the first grade quality fruit," Mr Eccles said. "Because the fruit comes on so quickly, if we get a few cool days, it bounces back fairly quickly. So it is not like we have any long term impact from those few hot days. Overall growers have kept up with quality due to the increase in production from previous years. Most crops are now grown undercover which helps protect from rain and thunderstorms."

Demand for raspberries and blackberries from Australian consumers continues to grow according to Mr Eccles. Blackberries in particular are undersupplied but new varieties will help to meet consumer demand.

"More consumers are seeing blackberries appear in the stores in areas where once they were never seen," he said "Consumers are always looking for something new. Consumer demand has been helped with raspberries now being seen on the shelves all year round - we have nearly 12 months of production, with the northern areas coming in in winter that complements the main summer period further south. The other thing driving demand is supermarkets putting raspberries and blackberries at the front of the produce store. There is also the health benefits and versatility of the berries as well".

BerryQuest International 2018 will be held at the Country Club Tasmania in Launceston from 12-15 February. For more information: www.berryquest.com.au 


Jonathan Eccles
Raspberries and Blackberries Australia
Phone: +61 407 242 757
jonathan.eccles@raba.com.au


Publication date: 1/31/2018
Author: Matthew Russell
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com

BerryQuest conference set for Tasmania in early 2018

Three peak industry bodies representing Australian berry producers are working together once again to roll out a highly anticipated conference of industry experts from across the country and abroad.

Strawberries Australia, Australian Blueberry Growers Association and Raspberries and Blackberries Australia will proudly host BerryQuest International 2018 at the Country Club Launceston from Feb. 12-15.

The event will bring together berry growers, industry related businesses and researchers from around Australia and the world for three days of conference activity.

Conference highlights will include:

A broad range of topics covered in plenary and breakout sessions which will provide growers with the latest information to help further develop both farming and business practices.
Many of the topics have been selected by a panel of growers who have focussed on the issues that will be pertinent to the berry industry as it expands over the next 5 to 10 years.
A number of conference speakers will be farmers, with berry growers from across the country willing to share their experience in a range of topics.
A large trade exhibition with 28+ booths will also be open for two and a half days of the conference.
BerryQuest International 2018 will expose delegates to the latest innovations across a wide range of areas including innovation in growing techniques, research, pest and disease management, breeding, export development, labour, marketing and retailer/consumer trends.

Simon Dornauf, conference committee chair for BerryQuest International 2018 says that the conference will also provide excellent business opportunities between growers, their allied trade and interested parties.

“The opportunities to share information and network presented by the Conference are extraordinary. Berry producers will be able to speak to and hear from suppliers about the latest innovations and technology at the dedicated Trade Exhibition, and the social events being held are where much of the ‘real business’ is done”.

Launceston has been selected as the host city due to its close proximity to berry growing areas where strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries will all be in season. Attendees will have the opportunity to see production first hand by participating in one of the organised farm tours on the final day of the conference.

With a combined value of around AUD$850 million dollars per annum, the Australia Berry Industry has now become one of the largest sectors within horticulture. It is estimated that more than 20,000 people are employed directly in the berry industry, with most of the industries expanding each year.

Registration to attend is now open and sponsorship/ exhibitor opportunities are still available. Visit www.berryquest.com.au for more information.

www.freshfruitportal.com

Premium blueberry grower doubles production

Nutrano Produce Group, which acquired the premium blueberry farm Abbotsleigh last year, says its volumes have been more than double last season’s crop.

The company grows the fruit at the Southern Queensland farm, with the season running from June to January and a seasonal peak in September and October.

"We have been very happy with the fruit size, flavour and quality this season," Steven Chaur, Managing Director of Nutrano said. "We have been trialing new initiatives with fertiliser and water programs, as well as some alternative plant growing methods which have delivered improved yield results year on year. We do anticipate that our harvest volume will continue to increase incrementally over the next two years based on existing plantings."

Nutrano has approximately 20 hectares of protected cropping blueberries in both tunnels and netting. Mr Chaur says the 2017 season has been mostly predictable with drier weather in the growing region.

"Although a few unseasonal bursts of early hot weather in Spring followed by heavy rain did promote additional fruit growth," he said. "Whilst it did present some challenges to pick the fruit faster to ensure size, quality and flavour was maintained, the company was able to harvest the fruit with minimal disruption. The fruit quality and yield per hectare has been improving strongly as expected over the past year and we are on target to meet our 2017 volume expectations. As our young plantation matures, fruit yield and volumes are expected to continue to rise."

Over the coming years, Nutrano says it aspires to expand its production in Abbotsleigh as a premium Australian grower, with consumer demand for Australian blueberries increasing strongly due to increased quality, flavour and availability.

"Health trends are also helping to promote the fruit due it its positive antioxidant qualities and versatility with smoothies, meal and recipe uses and snacking convenience," Mr Chaur said. "Price has also been a factor as blueberries become more affordable as supply volumes domestically increase. Whilst Australia does import quite a volume of frozen blueberries from overseas markets, mainly South America, Canada and the USA, improved growing techniques, supermarket merchandising and strict on farm quality systems have made Australian blueberries more accessible to consumers at an affordable price."

Currently, Nutrano supplies all its quality blueberries exclusively under licence into the SmartBerries marketing and packing program, which sells the product nationally and to export markets.

"As a growing company that exports internationally, Nutrano is gaining increased demand from export customers in Asia for our Abbotsleigh farm grown citrus and we are confident that our berries will, in time, be included in export programs," Mr Chaur said.

OzBlu is an Australian based breeding program for blueberries and Nutrano's Managing Director says the company provides several different varieties under that partnership.

"These varieties provide different characteristics in fruit size, firmness, sweetness and juiciness," he said. "New varieties are always being trialled across the world to improve flavour, berry size, crop yield and taste. A major future industry opportunity is to develop mechanically harvestable varieties to reduce on farm labour costs, as well as new varietals that provide unique characteristics around flavour, juiciness and texture. The UK market has started to market Blueberry varieties on this basis."


For more information
Steven Chaur
Nutrano Produce Group
Phone: +61 3 9428 1748
info@nutrano.com.au
www.nutrano.com.au

Publication date: 11/13/2017
Author: Matthew Russell
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com

First Australian blueberries hit Indian market

The Australian fruit industry has made a breakthrough with the country’s first exports of blueberries to the Indian market, with the berries now in Kovai Pazhamudir Nilayam (KPN) Group stores.

In a release, Australia’s Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DoAWR) said KPN was one of the leading premium retailers of fruit and vegetables in southern India, serving 30,000 customers a day.

Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Luke Hartsuyker, welcomed the news, crediting support through the recent Australia Business Week in India (ABWI).

While the name of the exporter was not mentioned in the release, a key industry representative present during ABWI was OzGroup’s Kamaldeep Singh Clair, who told Fresh Fruit Portal at the time he was hopeful for the first exports this year.

Hartsuyker highlighted India was fifth-largest agricultural export market in 2016-17, with exports valued at AUD$3.1 billion (US$2.4 billion), up 475% since 2011-12.

“Exports of blueberries will further increase the value of this market to Australia,” he said.

“I am pleased that ABWI has proved beneficial for Australia’s blueberry industry, with the first Australian blueberries now available in grocery stores for Indian consumers to enjoy.

“Australia has an impressive global reputation for producing high-quality, clean produce and our work in supporting these new exports demonstrates the Coalition Government’s commitment to expanding trade links—to benefit our industry and nation.”

He said this breakthrough showed the value of working with international trading partners to identify and progress new trade opportunities, in order to support “ongoing productivity and profitability” in Australian agriculture.

In 2016, Australia exported AUD$8.9 million (US$6.8 million) worth of blueberries to almost 20 countries, including $4.4 million (US$3.36 million) to Hong Kong. At industry’s request, the DoAWR successfully negotiated market access for blueberries to India in September 2015.

Demand for agricultural produce in India is forecast to increase by 136% between 2009 and 2050, according to research from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES).

Fruit consumption is also anticipated to rise by nearly 250% by 2050, with the popularity of nutrient-rich and versatile blueberries expected to significantly increase over coming years.

“We have a growing two-way trade in many agricultural commodities and products and we will continue to pursue two-way trade and investment opportunities,” Hartsuyker said.

Source: www.freshfruitportal.com

 

Australian blueberries added to priority list

Chinese access moves a step closer, with selected stonefruit categories and mainland apples next in line

ustralian blueberries have been added to a new priorities list for horticulture market access to China.

Contrary to reports from some media outlets, the agreement does not immediately open up access for Australian blueberries in the People’s Republic. Instead, the application for blueberries will progress after the existing access priority for Australian mainland apples.

The new agreement builds on market access achievements delivered under a ‘four and four’ agreement signed between the two countries in 2006, which prioritised negotiations by considering each nation’s top four horticulture market access requests.

The previous agreement has supported access for Australian table grapes, cherries and nectarines in China, with progress being made on other stonefruit categories – peaches, plums and apricots.

“The Coalition Government has worked closely with China to progress our horticulture market access priorities and through the new two and two agreement we are focusing our efforts on access for mainland apples, followed by Australian blueberries," said Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agricult​ure and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce.

"The new agreement will commence following completion of summerfruit protocols under the previous four and four agreement.”

During last month’s International Blueberry Organisation Summit in Qujing, delegates heard about the enormous promise China shows as a blueberry market, with local production and imports developing at a rapid rate.

The Asian nation imported 5,339 tonnes of blueberries between January and June 2017, up 42 per cent on the same time last year, according to China Customs data. All of this supply came from Chile.

The opportunity to capture market share was not lost on Assistant Minister to the Australian Deputy Prime Minister, Luke Hartsuyker.

“We currently export blueberries to almost 20 countries and the new agreement provides a significant opportunity for the Australian industry to access another valuable market,” Hartsuyker explained.

"Identifying and making use of these new opportunities will help support the ongoing productivity and profitability of the Australian blueberry industry."

Source: http://www.fruitnet.com/asiafruit Author: Matthew Jones

 

China agreement delivers for Australian horticulture - Media Release

Australia and China transitioning to a new two and two agreement that includes Australian apples and blueberries as future market access priorities

The new agreement will progress market access and support the trade relationship between Australia and China

Australia and China have agreed to new horticulture market access priorities that will allow future exports of Australian blueberries to China. The inclusion of blueberries on the priority list will progress after the existing access priority of mainland apples.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, said the agreement will improve Australia’s horticultural market access and support the trade relationship between the two countries. “The Coalition Government has worked closely with China to progress our horticulture market access priorities and through the new two and two agreement we are focusing our efforts on access for mainland apples, followed by Australian blueberries,” Minister Joyce said.
“The new agreement will commence following completion of summerfruit protocols under the previous four and four agreement.
“Technical market access negotiations are scientifically complex and do take time, as each country looks to safeguard its national biosecurity interests and food safety standards.”


In 2006, Australia and China agreed to prioritise negotiations by considering each other's top four horticulture market access requests through a ‘four and four’ agreement, which has provided agricultural trade benefits for both countries.
Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister, Luke Hartsuyker, said the new agreement will build on market access achievements delivered under the previous four and four agreement. “The previous agreement supported access for Australian table grapes, and cherries, with nectarines completed and progress being made on access for other summerfruits—peaches, plums and apricots,” Minister Hartsuyker said.
“We currently export blueberries to almost 20 countries and the new agreement provides a significant opportunity for the Australian industry to access another valuable market.
“Identifying and making use of these new opportunities will help support the ongoing productivity and profitability of the Australian blueberry industry.”


Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Senator Anne Ruston, said China is one of Australia’s most important trading partners and this is welcome news for our blueberry and apple industries, as well as our $9 billion horticulture industry as a whole.
“As a trading nation that has developed to supply food and fibre to global markets, exports underpin our national economy and the profitability of our agriculture sector.”


The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources will work closely with the Australian apple and blueberry industries to guide and inform its work in preparing for market access submissions to China.


Fast facts
- Australia’s agricultural exports to China was worth over A$10 billion in calendar year 2016.

- Australia exported A$8.9 million worth of blueberries to all destinations and A$4.4 million to Hong Kong in calendar year 2016.

- In 2006, Australia and China agreed to consider each other's top four horticulture market access requests concurrently through a ‘four and four’ agreement.

- Australian commodities covered under this agreement are table grapes, cherries, summerfruit and apples.

- China market access for Australian cherries was gained in 2013, nectarines in 2016 and access for other summerfruits - peaches, plums and apricots - is currently being negotiated.

- The Coalition Government successfully negotiated market access for Australian blueberries to India in September 2015.

Blueberry promotion on the agenda at Australia Business Week in India

The antioxidant-rich fruit from Australia has been allowed into India since October, 2015, and was on the menu at an opening dinner for Australia Business Week in India (ABWI) in Chennai.

Australian Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister, Luke Hartsuyker, has highlighted the benefits of his country’s premium blueberries as part of a broader agricultural trade pitch at ABWI, an event taking place across several Indian cities this week.

In a release, the minister said fresh Australian blueberries and tender Aussie lamb were tried and tasted by potential importers during an Australia-India dinner as part of the event.

“Australia Business Week in India (ABWI) is a great opportunity to promote Australian agricultural produce, especially for the Australian blueberry and sheepmeat industries, with delegates from these industries on the ground in India this week to promote the best Australia has to offer” Hartsuyker said.

Hartsuyker said Australian blueberries have been showcased for the first time at ABWI since gaining market access.

“The Australian Government secured market access for blueberry farmers to India in October 2015 – turning what’s written on paper into a profitable market means building commercial relationships and that takes time,” he said.

“Judging by the reaction to the high quality Aussie produce at the dinner, sponsored by Meat and Livestock Australia, there will be a lot of interest in developing a strong consumer base in India.

“It was great to see the food retailers and the hospitality industry in Chennai so receptive to the Australian lamb and blueberries that were centre stage on the menu. It was a great springboard from which to build commercial relationships for these commodities into the future.”

Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) research shows agri-food demand in India is forecast to increase significantly by 136% between 2009 and 2050.

“Consumption of fruit is also expected to increase by nearly 250 per cent by 2050 and blueberries, which are rich in nutrients and antioxidants, are well placed to carve out a piece of that market,” Hartsuyker said.

“I know that the blueberry and sheepmeat industries will use this trip to reinforce their credentials as reliable suppliers of high quality product.”

While Australia’s fruit and vegetable industry has a relatively small presence in India, the country is Australia’s fifth-largest agricultural export market in 2016–17, with exports valued at AUD$3.1 billion, up 475.5% since 2011–12.

“India is already a significant market for Australian produce including chickpeas, wheat, raw cotton, wool and lentils, and there are opportunities to expand trade in wool, cotton, oilseeds, edible oils, lamb, and horticulture, particularly other tree nuts through increasing domestic demand and counter seasonality of Australian production,” Hartsuyker said.

www.freshfruitportal.com

China “top of the tree” for blueberry market opportunities

As bullish growth continues for blueberry production around the globe, one market stands out from the rest due to its sheer market potential.

The superfruit is by no means something that would traditionally feature in Chinese consumers’ shopping carts, but many in the industry are hoping to change that.

And in a country that contains around a fifth of the world’s population, that shift looks set to be a major game-changer.

For the first time this year, the International Blueberry Organization (IBO) will hold its annual Summit in China, in what the association’s president Peter McPherson described as a “different angle” for the event.

“I’ve attended every IBO Summit and we continue to raise the bar,” said McPherson, who also heads up the berry category of Australian produce company Costa Group.

“Obviously the government in China has a lot more to say about how the summit itself is run, but we’ve been able to work our way through that.

“I believe the program now is going to present all blueberry growers, suppliers and interested parties around the world with a good overview of not just the Chinese blueberry growing scene but also the world scene over the last 12 months.”

The three-day event will be held in the southern Yunnan Province, where McPherson said the local government has been very supportive of the conference.

“I encourage all blueberry-affiliated people globally to attend,” he said.

“I think it’s a very important conference to learn about what’s happening globally and about the better practices that are coming in. Also, the network opportunities that it represents are second to none.”

McPherson said while every country had its differentiation and challenges, China was unique in one area.

“The big thing about China is the market opportunity. There’s no doubting that it’s at the top of the tree,” he said.

“And the good thing that we’ve found is that the Chinese consumer loves blueberries.”

Local production key to boosting consumption

There are not just opportunities abound for marketing the on-trend fruit, but growing it too.

Costa announced a joint venture with one of the world’s leading berry companies, Driscoll’s, early last year, and McPherson said they would be ramping up their production footprint over the next three to five years.

“We can grow the Australian blueberry genetics that have been sent to China in a window where there is very little competition, and the fact that they are so well-received by consumers gives us a bit of a headstart to really go after that market opportunity,” he said.

“It will probably be the fastest-growing year-on-year production region in the world, albeit from a low base. Who knows? Maybe in 10 years’ time we might be saying it’s one of the biggest.”

Argentinean Blueberry Committee (ABC) president Carlos Stabile said holding the IBO Summit in China was a big step, explaining a lot of work had been involved in making it happen.

“The IBO as a brand has a reputation and we are coming from a very high standard from the last event in Argentina and Uruguay,” he said.

“I think the expectations are very high. I think the congress will show the giant market and the giant industry that China could represent in the future years in the blueberry sector.”

He added developing local production would be a key factor in stimulating consumption growth.

“These big investments that are happening right now are doing exactly that. They are creating the demand, and that demand for blueberries will still be there when the Chinese industry is done at the end of its season,” he said.

Chilean Blueberry Committee president Andrés Armstrong said the information garnered at the event would undoubtedly be of benefit to all those involved with the fruit.

“It’s an opportunity to get to know what’s happening in China – not just from a production point of view, but also the market – and to find better channels to sell our fruit,” he said, highlighting e-commerce as a key area for sales.

Double-digit growth from around the world

Production has been soaring in Australia, where year-on-year volumes increasing at a rate of 15-20%, according to McPherson.

He said the country had now effectively become a 52-week supplier thanks to its range of production locations from northern Queensland to Tasmania. The export sector is now focused on a Japanese market reopening and Chinese market opening, he added.

Morocco is another area seeing a strong uptick in volumes, with the major benefits having very low costs of production and a four-week lead time into the nearby European market in front of Spain.

“The yield factors that we’re able to achieve there are highest of what we get for the Costa genetics anywhere, and the year-on-year volume increases are 20-25%,” he said.

“Traditionally Royal and African Blue have been the main producers, but now a lot of other growers have seen what the capabilities of Morocco are due to its location and climate and are also looking to increase their production footprint in that part of the world.”

Peru recently announced it was expecting to double blueberry production for the second consecutive year this upcoming season, aiming to fill the supply gaps before Chile enters the scene with far higher volumes from November.

The more mature industries in Chile and Argentina are not the expecting significant year-on-year growth seen in the newer production regions, but both Stabile and Armstrong are expecting good seasons on the back of generally favorable weather conditions over recent months.

Source: www.freshfruitportal.com

High demand for AU blueberries in China

According to the China's Market for Australian Blueberries: A Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity report, blueberries will become the fastest growing fruit category in China.

The report claimed higher incomes coupled with recognition of the berries nutritional values have led to an increased demand for blueberries in China.

International Blueberry Organisation president Peter McPherson said Australian berries were particularly high in demand because of their quality.

"There is a market window there in our peak season between September and November each year that we believe our blueberries will be the premium blueberries in that country," Mr McPherson said.

He said there was a "political" roadblock which has applied the brakes on Chinese export deals.

Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister Luke Hartsuyker said trade deals took years to finalise.

"The average time for product entry is nine years," Mr Hartsuyker said.

He said the Federal Government had put "a lot of effort in" negotiating with Chinese counterparts and the blueberry industry. He said every producer wanted their product at the top of the priority list which has been filled by nectarines, apples and stone fruit.

"This is a massive market. We're talking about millions and millions of potential blueberry customers and we can't sell them a single blueberry at the moment," said Minister for Trade Jason Clare.

He said this deal would create more jobs for the Mid North Coast.

Costa's domestic berry general manager David Jordan said the industry employed about 2000 people on a permanent basis in NSW. This figure rose to about 6,500 during peak season.

Source: www.coffscoastadvocate.com.au via www.freshplaza.com 

Publication date: 8/8/2017

NSW berry company capitalizes on Indonesian demand

Premium fresh fruit is what seems to be in demand from Indonesia, especially that which has been grown for the Indonesian palate.

Andrew Bell, director of Mountain Blue Farms in northern New South Wales, says the successful family-owned blueberry operation had been looking for export opportunities to expand beyond the domestic market, and eventually settled on Indonesia.

The country has a population of more than 255 million, making it a potentially important market.

"Indonesia has a significant population, right on our doorstep," says Bell, whose company also runs its own breeding operation. "They also have a rapidly growing middle class who are a food and health conscious, and there happened to be existing protocols for getting blueberries into Indonesia."

He says the typical agribusiness approach into Indonesia had either been about bulk supply (wheat, sugar), or it had entailed lower grade fruit and vegetables for specific markets.

"We saw a different market," says Bell. "We wanted to be in the quality supermarkets that are being built for the middle classes. We have a premium product and that's what we wanted to sell in Indonesia. We didn't want to compromise on what we do."

Read more at afr.com

Source: www.freshplaza.com

Publication date: 7/12/2017

U.S. fruit industry concerned over Mexican tariffs

The U.S. apple and grape sectors have voiced concern over the Mexican Government’s recent announcement that it will impose retaliatory tariffs on the commodities.

On Thursday U.S. President Donald Trump announced duties of 25% and 10% would be imposed on steel and aluminum imports respectively from Mexico, Canada, and the EU, leading to an angry response and threats of reciprocal measures.

Mexico said it would hit the U.S. with tariffs on numerous food products including apples, grapes, and blueberries, but did not specify when they might come into effect or at what rate they would be.

Apples are by far the biggest export commodity to Mexico of the three fruits. USDA data shows apple exports to the market last year totaled around US$275 million.

Table grape exports last year were registered at US$94 million, while blueberry exports were far lower at US$840,000.

Todd Fryhover of the Washington Apple Commission said on Thursday that the industry was in a “wait and see” mode as there was no official word on what rate the duty would be.

He added that Mexico is Washington’s leading export market, with a value of US$215 million last season.

“Any duty, just like the ‘potential’ India duty, will be impactful – but how impactful will be determined once we have more details,” he said, referring to India’s recent threat to impose an additional 30% duty on U.S. apples.

Alexander Ott of the California Apple Commission said: “We are concerned about the tariffs from Mexico. It is always concerning that countries tie commodities to other industries as leverage.”

“Mexico is the second largest export market for California apples and a significant market for other apple-producing states. The effects of U.S. Apples not being able to ship to Mexico due to high tariffs not only prevents agricultural to provide a healthy and nutritious product to consumers but may have an impact on other markets due to those apples not being able to ship into the existing markets.

“We hope there will be a quick resolution to the trade situation.”

As for table grapes, John Pandol of California-based Pandol Brothers explained the state has recent experience with retaliatory duties on the issue of Mexican trucks operating in the U.S.

He said that a 45% duty caused California grape exports to the market to drop from 4.5 million to 1.5 million boxes several years ago.

“The multiple impacts of price pressure from Mexico and a larger percentage of the crop being channeled into the remaining markets spells a challenging season,” he said.

“Many of us who think President Trump has done many positive things in many areas are confused on his foreign trade posture. In one meeting a grower stated, “we’ll fall on the sword on the China deal but leave NAFTA [the North American Free Trade Agreement] alone.”

“It is clear that those in our industry who dismissed fear of reprisals were mistaken. I’m watching a lifetime of market access work being thrown under the bus.”

Canada also announced it would impose a 10% tariff on U.S. cucumbers. Last year the U.S. exported US$13.7 million of the vegetable north of the border, according to USDA data.

The EU and Canada later announced a list of U.S products on which they would increase taxes, both including orange juice on their lists.

Florida Citrus Mutual spokesperson Andrew Meadows on Monday said that the “vast majority” of the state’s orange juice production is consumed domestically.

“Although I don’t know of a specific grower or processor who will be directly affected by the tariffs, Florida’s production has gone down drastically in the past decade due to hurricanes and disease so we have very little exports of Florida juice,” he said.

www.freshfruitportal.com

  • 1
  • 2