On November 30th, the first deliveries of nectarines from Victoria, Australia arrived at Shanghai’s Huizhan wholesale market. “The fruit was delivered to the market in great condition,” V.F. Siciliano & Sons, the Australian grower and exporter of fruit which organized the initial shipment, stated in its newsletter. Colleen Dangerfield, the company’s export manager, told Produce Report that this shipment was a trial run and was primarily aimed at ensuring that all quarantine negotiations were completed and all requirements were complied with appropriately; as a result, the quantity of fruit transported was relatively modest, amounting to only 54 boxes at 10 kilograms per box.
Colleen Dangerfield gave a detailed account as to the end-to-end quarantine and shipment process for the nectarines. On November 27th, the fruit was packed in the town of Woorinen in Victoria and transported to Melbourne for fumigation quarantine treatment. As per Chinese protocol requirements for Australian nectarines, the fruit underwent mandatory fumigation lasting five and a half hours. Upon completion of this process, the nectarines were inspected by the Australian quarantine authorities, cleared for export to China, and subsequently loaded onto Air China aircraft in Melbourne and sent to Shanghai via direct flight. Arriving in Shanghai in the evening of November 29th, the nectarines were cleared through customs and on the morning of November 30th, quarantine inspectors approved the fruit for immediate sale on the China market.
These first shipments of Victorian nectarines were received by the Chinese importer Dalian Yidu Group Co., Ltd. Zhou Yujie, director’s assistant at Yidu, spoke highly of the product: “The fruit is of premium quality and is much juicer than we expected. Considering the fairly cold weather in Australia this year, the firmness of the fruit is quite appropriate”.
Due to the cool spring and a lack of sunshine, Australia’s nectarine season has been delayed this season and the sugar content of the fruit shipped to Shanghai is still quite low, which is expected to put some pressure on local traders. Nevertheless, when these new arrivals of Victorian nectarines appeared on Huizhan, they immediately attracted the attention of vendors and e-commerce buyers alike. Furthermore, the most sugary and highest quality fruit will be harvested and delivered to China in December and January. It was announced in the newsletter that “as nectarine season in Australia shifts into high gear, the first airfreights will be backed by a series of nectarine ocean containers, which have already begun to depart from Australian ports this week.” In roughly three weeks, given the transit time of 18 days, large quantities of high-quality Australian nectarines will become available in China. While early-season, white flesh Polar Light nectarines were chosen for the initial shipments, mid-season and late harvest varieties of nectarines with both white and yellow flesh will be exported to China in the coming months.
According to Zhou Yujie, Yidu plans to launch numerous promotional campaigns targeted at consumer education in order to support Australian nectarines in China. “We have been working with Yidu for more than 10 years, and have a history of cooperation in supplying China’s market with other Australian fruit,” Colleen Dangerfield told Produce Report. She also noted that V.F. Siciliano & Sons was fortunate to have Yidu as one of their partners in China and was grateful for its assistance in organizing the very first Victorian nectarine shipments to China.
In conversation with Produce Report, John Moore, CEO of Summerfruit Australia Ltd., discussed the potential for South Australian nectarines in China. “The first nectarines coming to China will be from the Riverland region in South Australia, which has already been recognized as a pest-free area by the Chinese authorities. This means that no quarantine treatment is required, and the fruit can be picked, packed, and sent to China directly…this is fantastic, as only three days after being picked, one will be able to already find these nectarines on the market in China.”
According to Mr. Moore, the Riverland is the second area in Australia, the first being Tasmania, which has been awarded the status of ‘pest-free’ by the Chinese government. “It is an important milestone, as now a state in mainland Australia can also declare a fruit fly-free environment.” Producers of other fruit in the Riverland, such as citrus and grape, are still working on obtaining AQSIQ ‘pest-free’ recognition, which requires further inspection of citrus orchards and vineyards by Chinese experts.
South Australia is not Australia’s largest producer of nectarines, ranked only third among Australia’s stonefruit-growing states in terms of quantity. “The largest producer of nectarines is Victoria, whose crops account for 75% of the country’s total output. New South Wales is second, followed by South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland, respectively,” remarked Mr. Moore. The majority of Australia’s nectarine exports to China is expected to come from Victoria, with smaller volume to be shipped from New South Wales and South Australia (other states chose not to export their fruit this year). Due to the presence of Queensland fruit flies in Victoria and New South Wales, their nectarines are obliged to undergo anti-pest treatments either by on shore cold treatment, and then airfreighted, or by in transit cold treatment whilst being shipped to China. This type of quarantine procedure lasts roughly 18 days, so most Australian nectarines will require more time to reach China’s market.
The nectarines to be delivered to China during mid-November are early season varieties. “Due to cold weather and the lack of sunshine in spring and early summer, Australia’s nectarine season will be two weeks later this year. Nectarines are only now beginning to sweeten and the sugar content of these first nectarines is quite low, around 11% Brix. However, the sugar level is expected to rise to 14-16 % Brix in December and January, when the premium fruit to be harvested and sent to China in January of next year,” explained John Moore.
In regards to export volume, Mr. Moore indicated that the first nectarine air shipments will be conducted in both smaller AKE and bigger LD7 containers, with an average transit time of 13 hours. AKE containers have the capacity to hold 1.5 tons of Australian nectarines, while airfreights utilizing LD7 container can deliver approximately 4 tons of this fruit to China. As nectarines in Victoria and New South Wales mature later than those from South Australia, fumigation facilities will be used as a quarantine measure, as stipulated in the protocol, prior to airfreight in order to transport these varieties from regions outside of Australia’s pest free areas.
It is expected that during the last two weeks of December, when export volumes from Victoria are to increase dramatically, air shipments will be substituted by sea freight with onboard, in-transit cold disinfestation treatment schedules. The ports of Melbourne and Sydney are planned to serve as departure points, with ports in Shanghai and Guangzhou the ultimate destination. However, Mr. Moore noted that shipments will be expanded to additional ports in China in order to meet increased demand. “When peak season in Australia starts, shipments will also be organized to the ports of Dalian and Tianjin in order to satisfy demand in the Beijing region. This will likely take place in the middle of January and just in time for Spring Festival, during which fruit, especially of the imported variety, is a popular gift among Chinese consumers.” Australian nectarines have a transit time of 18 days to reach China via sea, with 40-foot containers the preferred method of transportation.
The Huizhan Fruit Wholesale Market-based Oheng Import & Export Co. Ltd, located in Shanghai, has already obtained an import permit for Australian nectarines. “Import licenses continue to be issued by AQSIQ, so there will be more and more Chinese companies importing Australian nectarines. Oheng Import & Export Co. Ltd were among first importers to apply for licenses when registration opened on October 28th and as it takes 21 days to acquire such a permit, we expect number of licensed importers in China to grow in the near future.”
Mr. Moore informed Produce Report that the first air shipments from South Australia was organized by QFM Production Pty Ltd., one of Australia’s finest stonefruit growers and exporters and which sells its fruit under the ‘Zest’ label, among others. Further shipments will be managed by a wide range of Australian export companies, namely T&G Global Ltd., Freshmax Australia Pty Ltd., Fruit Master Australia Pty Ltd, VFS Exports and approximately a dozen others.
On September 18, 2016, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) released the latest list of allowable imported fruits.
Citrus[OrangeOrange(Citrus sinensis), Mandarin(Citrus reticulata), LemonLemon(Citrus limon), Grapefruit(Citrus paradisi), Lime(Citrus aurantifolia, Citrus latifolia, Citrus limonia), Tangelo(Citrus tangelo), Sweet grapefruit(Citrus grandis × Citrus paradisi)], Mango(Mangifera indica), Apple(Malus domestica; Tasmania), Grape(Vitis vinifera), Cherry(Prunus avium), Nectarine*(Prunus persica var. nectarine)
Citrus[Mandarin(Citrus reticulata, Citrus deliciosa, Citrus unshiu), Orange(Citrus sinensis), Lemon(Citrus limon, Citrus meyeri)], Apple(Malus domestica), Cherry(Prunus avium), Grape(Vitis vinifera), Kiwi fruit(Actinidia chinensis, Actinidia deliciosa, Actinidia deliciosa×Actinidia chinensis), Plum(Prunus salicina, Prunus domestica), Pear(Pyrus pyrifolia,Pyrus communis), Mei/Japanese apricot(Prunus mume), Persimmons*(Diospyros kaki)
Australian nectarine growers now have new access to the Chinese market, following the agreement of new import protocols by both countries.
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources First Assistant Secretary, Louise Van Meurs, said successful development of the new protocols reflected strong collaboration between the department, the summerfruit industry and government officials in nectarine producing states such as Victoria and South Australia.
"Today’s announcement is an excellent example of what can be achieved when governments and industry work together to secure access to priority markets,” Ms Van Meurs said.
“China is now Australia’s largest agricultural export market, with total exports in 2015 worth approximately $10.9 billion.
“Access to this market will deliver very practical and commercially viable export opportunities to Australian nectarine producers.”
The implementation of the China–Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) means that from 1 January 2017, Australian nectarines will face a tariff of only 4 per cent in China, down from 10 per cent prior to entry into force of ChAFTA.
Further tariff reductions will follow in 2018, with all tariffs on Australian nectarines to be eliminated from 1 January 2019.
Ms Van Meurs said that one of Australia’s key strengths as an agricultural trading nation was our favourable plant health status, underpinned by a strong biosecurity system.
“Australia already exports a range of fresh fruits to China including citrus, table grapes, mangoes and cherries,” Ms Van Meurs said.
Australian mandarins are now in season. According to a press release from Citrus Australia, Australian growers are expected to produce more than 100,000 tonnes of mandarins throughout the 2016 season.
Judith Damiani, Chief Executive Officer of Citrus Australia, said that as a result of the favorable growing conditions growers are on track this year to deliver an abundant supply of high-quality, great-tasting fruit.
The Australian mandarin season runs from April through to October with more than ten varieties available. Australian growers have high expectations for the Chinese market. “In 2016 there are 60% more citrus farms registered for export to China and we hope to increase supply this season,” Ms. Damiani told Produce Report.
In 2015, mainland China became the third-biggest export market by volume for Australian citrus fruit, up 58% from 2014 to 29,000 tonnes, with a value of 53 million AUD. 28% of the volume is mandarins, mainly the Murcott variety, which is available from June to October and at its peak harvest period in August.
According to Ms. Damiani, the 2016 Australian mandarin crop is of high quality with volumes similar to last year.