Tasmania Recovers, Exports First Cherry Shipment to China

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | January 17, 2013 3:47 PM EST

Tasmania is on the road to recovery. After experiencing its catastrophic bushfire incident early this year, Tasmania struggles to recover, with the first shipment of its cherry export already bound for China.

In the lead up to the Chinese New Year, Tasmania's Reid Fruits from Derwent Valley said it has sent its first consignment of cherries, equivalent to 20 tonnes, to China on Wednesday. The shipment is expected to arrive in China on Friday, and will be made available to cherry lovers in Beijing and Shanghai.

In November 2012, Tasmanian growers and exporters acquired a draft approval from the Chinese Agency of General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) to sell the small, red fruit in the world's second-largest economy. The draft was eventually signed in December.

"This is a big outcome. We have been working on this project for more than a decade," Tim Reid, Reid Fruits managing director, said.

"It will be a whole new market for the industry leading to more jobs."

According to Cherry Growers Australia (CGA), the Australian-produced cherries targets the high-end market of the Chinese community. It also hoped the small, red fruit, which is packed with antioxidants called anthocyanins, will be sold not only for personal use from now until the Chinese New Year, but also as gifts during the festivities. 

Mr Reid said his shipment was only bound for one Chinese customer.

"The same customer wants 10 tonnes sent every day from now through to the end of the season into Beijing, as well as 10 tonnes per day into Shanghai, and that's just one customer," he said.

"So we've got other importers inquiring to other pack houses in Tasmania about cherries for the rest of the season."

"This will really set the industry on a new course and is in line with our export roadmap which aims to lift the export of Australian cherries from 20 per cent per season, which is around 2000 tonnes to around 20 countries globally, to 50 per cent or 6000 tonnes annually, by 2017," Andrew Smith, National President of CGA, said in a statement.

Lucy Gregg, Fruit Growers Tasmania business development manager, likewise Australia's foray into China gives off huge opportunities for Tasmanian growers.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for Tasmanian cherry growers and exporters to access another key Asian markets. We currently have access to Taiwan, South Korea and Japan due to our area-free status for fruit fly and a range of other non-protocol markets across Asia," Ms Gregg said.

Consuming cherries daily help in the reduction of one's heart disease and cancer, help boost memory, aids in sleep and could cut gout, among others.

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