Aussie stonefruit season “progressing beautifully”, says Cutri Fruit

Australia’s leading grower-packer of stonefruit has noted “excellent” growing conditions this year with exports already underway since last month along with a new partnership.

Cutri Fruit CEO Gaethan Cutri told Fresh Fruit Portal the season had been running “solidly”, while he was upbeat about a joint venture for exports with LaManna Premier Group (LPG) to form LPG Cutri Fruit Global Exports.

“Having the right people enables businesses to grow and become better at what they do – we believe our joint venture has that and will bring this to both our businesses,” Cutri said.

“LPG are exporting in other categories which we see to be a great bolt-on to what we do and now gives both businesses a 12-month offer between fruits and vegetables to customers worldwide.”

He said Cutri Fruit’s farms, which in stonefruit are split between nectarines (45%), peaches (45%) and plums (10%), witnessed great chill hours throughout the winter and were “relatively unscathed by the frosts”.

“Each year we progress down the farming journey we get better at being able to mitigate any potential challenges that arise, so each year seems to feel more manageable than the last,” Gaethan Cutri said.

“The start of the season is usually really challenging in terms of training new staff – some don’t even know what a nectarine is – but we are lucky that we have a lot of returning staff this season who are already familiar with our business, our systems and our products.

“We appear to be three to seven days ahead of last year, however last season was abnormally late.”

He added early season fruit volumes were down on last year, so the group believed sales on the domestic market would likely be strong throughout the remainder of the season, which so far had been “progressing beautifully”.

Cutri mentioned that as a large portion of the company’s plantings were export-focused, they were predominantly made up of white-fleshed varieties in nectarines and peaches. But yellow-fleshed fruit was still on offer.

“There are markets around the world who also just prefer yellow fleshed fruit, so we will export both this season,” he said.

“As we are Australia’s largest grower and packer of stone fruit, we need to export all the fruits that we have, in order to move the sheer volume of fruit. Plus, we don’t want to be pigeon-holed as being only a white-flesh producer.”

The executive also commended industry body Summerfruit Australia for setting the standards of where quality needed to be, following a challenging initial campaign in China a couple of years ago.

“Australia has always been sought after for its clean and green nature, fruit taste and healthful eating experience,” he said.

“We have been exporting to the Asian markets for over 30 years now, so we already know what the needs of the customers are, but it’s been a re-learning experience complying with the specific China protocols, which is something that we cherish greatly so we need to see that it’s done correctly.

“We have had to make some changes in training staff to the expectation and a few changes to how we operate in the orchard, but that’s all just a part of what we need to do. In keeping up with the practices we have implemented we hope to have a fantastic export season into China.”

He clarifies the group will be sending fruit “all over Asia and pretty much every market we have access to”.

“We are always looking to explore new opportunities – having multiple markets means we are never reliant on just one market,” Cutri said.

Cutri Fruit is also starting to see the fruits of its labor in trialing new cultivars, but it is still early days.

“All I can say is that we have some exclusive varieties of super-sweet plums already in the ground, with small volumes available for sampling this season,” he said.

“Their health benefits will rival the likes of the Queen Garnet plums, as well as blueberries and pomegranates. They will be the future of stonefruit.

“We have also delved into avocados, planting up an initial block of 40 hectares which are growing beautifully. They haven’t been in the ground for even two years, and this year we received a small sample of fruit, which were amazingly delicious and had excellent shelf life.”


Australian stone fruit producers taking advantage of new improved Chinese protocols

New protocols, and an improved growing season has helped the imports of Australian stone fruit into the Chinese supply chain increase 167 per cent in volume, compared to last year.

Summerfruit Australia says the figures, as of March 2018, recognise the addition of peaches and plums for the first time, after the industry gained access for all categories of stone fruit from November 2017, adding to nectarines, which started supply the year prior.

"Due to our protocol conditions and current limitations, our industry quickly seized on the new access for peaches and plums," CEO of Summerfruit Australia John Moore said. "Apricots are a very delicate fruit and will need more protocol improvements to successfully deliver first class quality to Chinese consumers. With nectarines in the second year of access, there was a significant increase in exports due to a much improved growing season over 2016/17."

He adds that the late announcement in 2017 for access of peaches, plums and apricots was very much welcomed, by both Australian producers and Chinese customers.

"Detailed surveillance of the key Chinese markets - Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing - heard positive feedback of quality, price points and consumer satisfaction for eating quality across the spectrum of nectarines, both yellow and white flesh; peaches both yellow and white flesh; and the spectrum of plums, inclusive of sugar plums," Mr Moore said. "The Australian Summerfruit sent to China this season re-established our distinguishing quality factor, eating characteristics and freshness over southern competitors.”

Summerfruit Australia's General Manager for Intellectual Property and Business Development Rowan Little says overall the season was an improvement in terms of timing and fruit quality on the year prior. Early fruit was almost two weeks earlier than the year prior which proved a good introduction into the season.

"I think the general consensus was that peaches were in heavy supply which resulted in some low grower returns," Mr Little said. "Nectarines were in good supply but not in over production. Plums were a little lighter than the previous season while Apricots returns were overall slightly lower."

The main challenge from a quality perspective was early season frosts in most districts and a few hail events which primarily affected the Cobram district. Other than that a few rain events had impacts at various times but overall the summer growing season was good.

However, Mr Little says domestic demand was relatively flat, but flavour and fruit size remain the primary drivers of domestic consumer demand.

"Nectarines continue to dominate the Australian domestic market in terms of volume of sales," he said. "In this space, yellow nectarines are also preferred over white. Sales were strongest for nectarines through January. During this period demand off shore for large white nectarines was also strong though grower returns were only average. Nectarines performed much better in China than the year prior with better fruit flavour driving demand and increased volume. Formal access for Plums and Peaches was not granted until mid-season, but with the benefit of a full season of access in 2018/19 this situation is expected to improve."

For more information:
Summerfruit Australia
Phone: +61 2 6041 6641

Publication date: 5/28/2018
Author: Matthew Russell

California stone fruit: less but more optimally-sized fruit predicted

Thanks to some seasonal effects including freezes and rain, there are varied reports about how the California stone fruit crop looks this season.

“The overall prospects for stone fruit this year are of a good crop for most of the season,” says Ken Barbic Senior with The Fresh Connection based in Lafayette, Ca. “But the overall crop is also diminished because of a freeze we had. And some commodities such as plums had a little less fruit set due to cool or wet weather during pollination time.”

Commodity breakdown
Plums: “In general, they’ll be light,” says Barbic Sr. “They were also a bit light last year.” Despite the lessened supply, sizing of the fruit looks good. “We’re expecting demand to exceed supply,” adds Barbic Sr., which could mean higher prices and less price fluctuation. There are also a few new varieties of plums which should take the season all the way into December. The estimated start for plums this season is the last part of May, with good volume by mid June.

Nectarines: “Nectarines are also going to be a bit shorter than normal,” says Barbic Sr. “But toward the end of May, they should get back to regular levels.” The first of the crop, the Honey May Nectarines, began last week.

Peaches: Peaches began this week. “We should have plenty of peaches and nectarines once we get through the first few weeks of the season,” says Barbic Sr. He also adds that the Southern U.S. and other states have more normal crops this year compared to last year, which could make for a more competitive domestic peach market this season.

Apricots: “There are a few varieties of apricots with very little crop on them and others that have a more normal crop,” says Barbic Sr. “Overall the crop is light but there’s still plenty of fruit available.” In terms of timing, apricots got the latest start to the season by starting some five to seven days late compared to last year.

Cherries: Cherries also began harvesting last Friday, although the volume is starting small. The timing is similar to last year’s seasonal start.

Good sizing
Barbic Sr. adds that while the overall crop sizing may be down, it may make for better fruit. “Usually less on the tree means a better-sized fruit so the quality should be good and the sizing in the range customers are looking for, whether it’s for an export or domestic market,” says Barbic Sr. Less on the tree may also mean less pressure on labor. “Less labor may be needed to thin out the trees in order to get that optimum sizing,” adds Barbic Sr.

Meanwhile, what remains concerning for California growers is transportation. “This includes the availability and allocation of the truck supply and transporting via trucks from the West Coast to the East Coast,” notes Barbic Sr. (Late last year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ruled that trucks need to carry electronic logging devices or ELDs, a ruling which many growers say has had several financial repercussions.) “In many cases, it costs a lot more to bring a box of peaches from the West Coast to New York or Boston than it does to send a box of peaches to a place like Taiwan.”

For more information:
Ken Barbic Sr.
The Fresh Connection
Tel: +1 (925) 299-9939

Publication date: 4/26/2018
Author: Astrid van den Broek

"China enters a golden age of investment in Australian farms"

The AATI (Australia Agriculture Technology Investment Holding Pty. Ltd.) was established in November 2017. It is an Australian holding with a Chinese background that invests in Australian agricultural technology.

AATI has two main services:
1. The company introduces new product varieties and promotes plantation and retail. For example, the company promotes a new variety of French plums, Israeli citrus, and Japanese strawberries. The core of this service is to locate high-quality new product varieties worldwide, introduce them to Australian plantations, and then sell them to overseas markets. At the same time AATI seeks excellent vegetable and fruit products in China. AATI hopes to create brand awareness among Chinese consumers. AATI also provides off-season fruit.

2. The company purchases fruit farms to annex and integrate the industry. The AATI team believe that China will enter a golden age of investment in Australian farms, because bilateral agreements between the two countries have increased since November 2017 when China amended the rules for Australian cherry import. At the same time, China also opened up for import of Australian plums, wild peaches, and apricots.

There have been numerous Chinese companies in the last 10 years that have failed in their attempt to annex Australian agricultural companies.
The main reasons for their failure are as follows: 1) choice of farm; 2) regulations; 3) funding; and 4) localization of management

The shareholders of AATI include senior agricultural specialists and the company receives support from Australian specialists in agricultural technology. AATI also employs analysts with a deep understanding of the Chinese market demands to facilitate export to China. At the same time, AATI has extensive experience with Chinese online marketing channels, which makes AATI a low-risk investment.

David Yang
E-mail address:

Publication date: 3/29/2018

China: First batch of Australian peaches arrive in Shandong

According to the official website of the Shandong Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau, the first cargo aircraft with 1,300 kg of Australian fresh peaches on board arrived at Qingdao Airport a few days ago. This special cargo port of Qingdao Airport has been open in January 2018. Since then, the Australian peaches are the 3rd shipment of high-end fruits.

China Inspection and Quarantine Bureau officer examines nectarines

Qingdao Airport has the biggest port for fruit import in Shandong Province. Up to now, there have been five batches of fruits imported through Qingdao Airport, with a total weight of more than 6 tons and a value of nearly 100,000 US dollars.

Source: via 

Publication date: 3/14/2018

Strong export growth for Australian produce

Australian horticulture export value has increased due to strengthening demand in China which is forecast to continue

Australian produce may not be able to compete on price in overseas export markets, but it can compete on quality, reliability, and safety, according to ABARES’ senior economist Caroline Gunning-Trant.

“Exports of fresh horticultural produce were worth more than $2bn in 2016 to 17, with strong growth in fruit and nut exports over the past five years,” she said.

Meeting the expectations of consumers was a key takeaway point for delegates at the ABARES Outlook 2018 conference today in Canberra.

Gunning-Trant said that a demand from Asia for Australian produce, coupled with favourable exchange rates and improved access, have supported Australia’s recent export growth.

Over the six years to 2016-17, Australia’s fruit and nut exports to its top five destinations more than doubled, and the value of vegetable exports increased 50 per cent.

Moving forward

The ABARES Outlook 2018 Agricultural commodities report has forecast overall Australian agricultural exports to increase by A$3bn over the next five years, continuing the upward trend. However, due to record production in 2016-17, the gross value of overall farm production is forecast to decline in 2017-18 by five per cent.

Internationally, Australian horticultural goods are a high value sector, and Elliot Jones, general manager – grape and citrus at Costa Group understands the importance of customer expectations to create sustainable markets and solidify Australia’s premium stance.

“China is a fast-growing market where consumers are increasingly brand and quality conscious. … Our brand and quality consistency will be key to sustaining those markets,” he said.

In terms of competing with China’s own supply, the report also mentioned that the Chinese fruit industry is “not expected to produce sufficient quality fruit to displace imports from Australia over the medium term.”

Jones also stresses the importance of maintaining and improving market access protocols as critical to the industry’s success.

Domestically, the ABARES Outlook 2018 report also anticipates “moderate growth” for fruit, with Australian production and demand expected to increase, but per person fruit consumption to not growing significantly.

Throughout the next five years domestic fruit prices are expected to fall due to increased competition.

For vegetables, overall production in 2016-17 saw a two per cent drop in value, which is expected to increase by A$2m to A$3.8bn in 2017-18, far less than the two per cent decrease from 16-17.

Growth in tree nut production has been significant, and is expected to correct itself as the continuously increasing global supply outpaces demand for growth.

High costs of irrigation for Australian growers is also expected to raise overall production costs meaning the industry will need to invest in supply-chain efficiencies and value-adding opportunities.


A taste of Southern France comes to Australia

A new Australian partnership has bought the rich flavours of a southern French summer to Australian orchardists and Australian consumers, with the introduction of the Regal’in™ peach, nectarine, and cherry varieties.

Agro Selections Fruits (also known as Maillard genetics), the breeding company owner of the REGAL’IN™ varieties, have been breeding new and beautiful varieties of fruit trees, using centuries old traditional methods of carefully crossing the pollen of one fruit type with another and selecting the improved trees, year after year.

The results have been surprising, with new varieties of super healthy red fleshed nectarines, beautiful white and red cherries and a season-long series of easy to eat flat nectarines and peaches.

The Australian companies working together to bring these new tastes to Australia are WA Farm Direct, Antico International and the N&A Group, a group of Australian family businesses who have been in the fruit industry for decades.

Fruit Logistica in Berlin is the site of the official announcement of the partnership and the new fruit trees will be planted by growers throughout Australia next year, once they have passed Australia’s stringent quarantine processes.

Rob Cathels from the N&A Group, based in Sydney Australia said, “we are looking forward to offering our Grower group the chance to grow something that’s really different and to diversify out of the standard peach and nectarine offer which has become overly commoditised. It’s great to give Australian consumers a new taste offer too, so it’s one of the rare win-wins that we search for.”

Regal’in™ are an innovative family owned fruit tree company in Elne, southern France, and while boutique, their trees are now grown in many countries around the world, and it would seem that Australia has missed out up until now. Luckily that’s changing, and Australian families should be able to taste the first of these new fruits in 2021.

Families in Asia have been enjoying Regal’in™ fruit for many years now and it has become a well known and highly desired brand in the region. Importantly, this opens another avenue for Australian growers to access well established export markets which will give a much needed boost to the sustainability of the industry in Australia.

For more information:
Jenny Mercer
Ph: +618 9350 4600
Mb: +61 409 880 569

Rob Cathels
Ph: +612 9764 3622
Mb: +61418 263 690

Justin Shield
Ph: +612 9764 3833
Mb: +61 433 664 400

Laurence Maillard
Ph: +33 (0) 468 37 88 80
Mb: +33 (0) 609 18 41 24

Publication date: 2/15/2018

First air freighted Australian honey peaches land in Beijing

On January 29th, 2018, the first shipment of Australian honey peaches was air freighted to Beijing and transported directly to the Xinfadi market in Beijing. The exporter was Royal Fresh International, and the importer was Beijing Jinsanfu International Trading Co., Ltd. The individual boxes of Australian honey peach weighed 4 kg. There were altogether 780 boxes. Most of them contained 16 to 18 peaches, and the smallest amount was still 12 to 14 peaches in a box.

The production season of Australian honey peaches generally starts in November and draws to an end in March of the subsequent year. The actual circumstances depend on differences between individual production areas and weather conditions. Mainland China has officially started to import honey peaches, apricots, and plums, just as the Australian summer production season of stone fruit is at its height. This is an excellent business opportunity, whether for Royal Fresh export of cherries, nectarines, honey peaches, plums, and Western plums, or for Chinese importers who have a strong desire to purchase fresh fruit.

This shipment of Australian honey peaches was imported under the brand "Top Crop". Top Crop is a fruit orchard in Victoria that has cooperated with Royal Fresh for many years. This orchard also supplies superior grade nectarines in relatively large volumes. Retailers who import fruit to China welcome the small peak season in the approach to Chinese Spring Festival. Royal Fresh takes this opportunity to export more fruit to China, and provide the consumers with a wider variety from which to choose.


Royal Fresh International Pty Ltd

David Yang

Bai Guang Lan, sales manager
Beijing King Sanfu International Trade Co. Ltd

Publication date: 1/31/2018

Australian nectarines arrive in Shanghai

The news conference "admire the taste of Australia" was organized in Shanghai on January 18th. Apart from an introduction to seasonal fruits from Australia, this conference also demonstrated the superior technology for the preservation of harvested fruit. It is reported that the sales promotion of seasonal nectarines lasts from January 23rd to February 1st.

It took place in the Shanghai based Ole, RT-Mart, City Super, Yummy Fruit, and Metro Supermarket, as well as at three Shanghai branches of G-Super (Xuhui, Yangpu, and Baolehui districts).

The season of Australian nectarines lasts from October to April. They can either be enjoyed when the fruit flesh is firm and crisp, or when the fruit is fully ripe, and the fruit is juicy and less acidic. The taste of nectarines is thick and sweet, which entirely suits the taste of Chinese consumers. "Admire the taste of Australia" will also host fresh Australian grapes in the coming month. The geographical distribution of production areas in Australia makes it possible to enjoy fresh and sweet grapes from November to May.

Source: via

Publication date: 1/29/2018

Australian nectarines “100% improved on last year” for second Chinese campaign

After a frustrating debut last year, lessons have been learned and growing conditions have been in the Australian industry’s favor for the current season.

While fruit import demand has softened in China with an “excessive amount” of Chilean cherry arrivals, Summerfruit Australia CEO John Moore says his country’s nectarines have been achieving “better than satisfactory” results on the market floor and gaining acceptance at retail.

Last season cold and wet weather led to a deterioration of fruit quality for Australia’s nectarine crop. While many exporters showed restraint, the actions of a few meant there was still Aussie fruit floating around in China with very low levels of brix, a measurement for sweetness.

“We’re back to a normal [growing] season. Last year for instance we didn’t get above 33°C (91.4°F) – now we’re into the low 40s (104°F),” Moore tells Fresh Fruit Portal from Shanghai.

These improved growing conditions, combined with good irrigation access for farmers, have played their part in boosting fruit quality for importers in the lead-up to Chinese New Year on Feb. 16.

“As far as nectarines go our season is 100% improved on last year. The quality is much better and I’ve been able to establish that there’s a marginal difference between Chilean nectarines and ours,” Moore says.

“I know the Chilean nectarines and with respect I say this as our competitor. They produce a lot more than Australia – we’re only able to land into mainland China up to 10,000MT of quality nectarines with reasonable brix,” he says.

“Our brix has increased. I was here in December and through to now I’ve seen the brix level come up two percentage points, so we’re looking at 15s at the moment. There’s definitely a difference in our brix to our competitors’ brix.

The industry representative elaborates on the comparison as well as the season’s development and expectations.

“I was in Guangzhou yesterday and it was my first time this year seeing the Chilean nectarines. The fruit there is of good color, very firm – I think it’s the early varieties and like with any country the early varieties probably need to mature a bit,” he explains.

“I think as the season progresses there’s going to be pretty interesting volumes coming out of Chile and we wish them all the best.”

Moore visited China on Dec. 20 and saw Aussie nectarines were already in the market, with early season fruit that was more acceptable for the Chinese market.

“And I was here over the Christmas-New Year break and the quality of our fruit was just sensational as it improved,” he says.

“We’ve targeted a lot of high-end retailers and we’re getting better than satisfactory results at this stage. We expect that to improve as we go to CNY (Chinese New Year).

“Obviously everyone will be disappointed after Feb. 16. It’ll fall off but then demand will probably pick up again from the end of February through to the end of March, which is the end of our season.”

He says last year the Australian industry shipped 5,800 metric tons (MT) of nectarines to mainland China, and while 10,000MT may well be “too much of a star in the sky”, the numbers will definitely be up.

“I’ve already seen fruit being destined for other cities. We’re certainly not with all the eggs in one basket going to tier ones,” he says.

“There’s certainly fruit going Chongqing, Chengdu, Xi’an, Nanjing, all the cities close to the tier one cities; I don’t don’t know how far west or north they’re going, but that’s not in our strategy.

“We haven’t got enough volume in Australia and we’re not narrow-minded enough to think we can do all over China – we’re just doing into key markets and where they key market buyers distribute the fruit, that’s their decision, not ours.”

With a small output compared to major international players like Chile and Spain, the Australian stonefruit industry ‘isn’t looking to conquer the world’, but the sector does have 38 different markets and continues to develop new ones.

“The Middle East is a good market for us. Singapore, Malaysia, other Asian countries take modest volumes,” he says.

“We are continually having in-country campaigns in Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam. That’s a market that’s opening up to us now – we were there up until 2011 but the Vietnamese government cut out a lot of Australian industries and now we’re re-prioritized into Vietnam so that’s a market that’s emerging.

“The USA is a work in progress – we’re waiting for the biosecurity departments of the respective countries to work through the issues, and even with our next door neighbor New Zealand, we’re waiting for their next biosecurity meetings to have access.”

Taste Australia promotes summer fruits Malaysia

The Taste Australia campaign provided recipes, displays and promotions in a bid to push summer fruits in Malaysia

Australian summer fruits were celebrated at Tesco Kepong Village Mall, Kuala Lumpur, just in time for the fruit gifting season.

The Taste Australia campaign launched last week highlighted cherries and summer fruits as a fresh and delicious option for shoppers.

Strategic promotion prior to the Chinese New Year was made on fruits like the cherry, whose round shape and colour symbolise prosperity and bring the recipient of them good fortune for the year.

The campaign was coordinated by the State Government of Victoria (Australia), in collaboration with Austrade and Hort Innovation Australia (who represent the cherry and summer fruit industries).

“Lots of sunshine, a clean and green natural environment, rich soil and blue skies are the reasons why Australian stone fruits taste better, are greener, cleaner and safer,” said Amelia Fyfield, State Government of Victoria (Australia) representative.

The promotional campaign featured plenty of fresh fruit displays alongside recipe demonstrations with nutritionist and health advocate, Marissa Parry.

“Fruit platters, salads and popsicles are just perfect for our Malaysian weather which is akin to summer all year round,” said Parry. “It’s best to taste them at their freshest while at the same time enjoy the nutritional benefits.”

Parry prepared a breakfast summer smoothie bowl, fresh fruit popsicles and a fresh summer salad using the Australian cherries and summer fruits to inspire shoppers.

Malaysia remains one of Australia’s fastest growing export markets in the Asean, with two-way trade in goods and services totalling almost AU$18 billion in 2016.

Source: Author: Camellia Aebischer


First shipments of peaches to China

Under newly ratified protocols, Orsida Fresh peaches have been sent by airfreight to mainland China

Valleyfresh Exports have worked with Cobram grower, Orsida Fresh to airfreight some of the first batches of Australian peaches to China via airfreight under newly ratified protocols.

The access will allow Australian growers of stonefruit, grapes and cherries to enter markets in mainland China more efficiently than before.

“Now with the direct access we can have a flight leave Melbourne in the morning and arrive in China that night,” said Valleyfresh Exports manager Saxon Call.

Valleyfresh will be focusing on airfreight in to Guangzhou, Beijing and Shanghai.

Their first shipments of peaches were in partnership with Orsida Fresh, a grower in Cobram, Victoria who worked with Call and his colleague Mark Shaw on the project.

“The grower we worked with was a big help in enabling us to get the right quality fruit in to the supply chain,” said Call.

Valleyfresh will be focusing their efforts on peaches and nectarines for the moment, but are hoping to begin exporting plums in the coming months.

Protocol treatments for different fruits can be found on the Manual of Importing Country Requirements website.

“With treatment, the protocol does cost a little bit more, but direct market access to China is what Australians have wanted and really needed.”

Source: Author: Camellia Aebischer

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