The Australian cider industry has expressed concern over potential health risks associated with the influx of imported concentrate used by major cider brands.
Local fruit growers are subject to rigorous health and safety regulations which ensure that their products are safe for consumption, while imported fruit is subject to standards that are not nearly as stringent.
WA apple grower, Mario Carsotti spoke to ABC Rural of his concerns.
“The fruit coming in from China, this concentrate, that could be sprayed with anything at all. Human waste put onto it, you really don’t know what’s ending up in that final product. It’s sort of like playing Russian roulette really,” said Carsotti.
Carsotti believes that the Government needs to step in and provide protection to both consumers and local growers. Carsotti says that the cider and juice market provides a vital avenue for Aussie growers to recoup production costs as imperfect fruit is not accepted by major supermarkets.
“We just can’t understand why the Government doesn’t put some sort of protection there, because [the countries from which Australia imports], they are just not doing what we are doing. It’s not a level playing field,” said Mr Carsotti.
“…Imported product is just so cheap for [major producers] to grab, that they don’t worry about local production.”
“The major [supermarket] chains have raised their bar with regards to what they will accept on quality with first-grade fruit. That puts more fruit into the juice-grade line of fruit. There’s too much for the factories to handle with the amount of imported juice coming into the country.”
Boutique cider brewer Mark Hollet, who has been in the industry for over 10 years, believes that cheap imports compromise on both safety and quality.
“I would be disappointed to see ciders being produced with concentrate, because it’s a little like short-cutting the process [and] trying to produce something as cheap as possible,” said Mr Hollett.
“If the apples are coming from overseas originally, then we don’t really know what the processes of the orchard have been in regards to spraying and other things, so you just have to hope that the fruit is of a high-quality when they juice it.”