Cherry exporters must improve

Australian cherry growers are being warned they need to lift their game or be overtaken by foreign competitors on the export market.

American cherry field officer, John Morton, who is visiting growers across Australia this month has warned that the Australian industry needs to get serious about improving the quality of its export cherries, because the market simply won’t accept less than the best.

“The quality bar has been raised. We’ve seen this in America and Europe through the last number of years and Australia’s just on the verge of having to do the same thing,” he said. “They’ve got to grow bigger, better fruit for the market.”

Morton said that meant taking better care of the fruit before and after harvest, harvesting at the optimum time, and keeping the fruit cold until it got to its destination.

He said all of this was being done very inconsistently across Australia right now.

“The Australian industry probably needs to step up its overall message to the growers and say, ‘if you can’t meet these quality standards, in terms of shipping the fruit cold and getting it to the market in good condition, we won’t take your fruit’.

“We’ve been through this in America. We’re just five years ahead, that’s all. We can’t sell poor quality fruit in the market any more.”

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