As the Asian table grape season commences, Australian growers head to the Philippines to boost trade relations.
Six (6) growers from the Sunraysia region, which is responsible for around 99 per cent of table grape exports, along with the CEO of the Australian Table Grapes Association (ATGA), were in Manila from 10th to 11th February to spruik the premium product.
Hosted under the Hort Innovation Taste Australia banner and supported by the Australian Trade and Investment Commission, the recent trade activity aims to cement existing trade relations and develop new and exciting partnerships.
Hort Innovation General Manager of Trade, Justine Coates said the Philippines was urrently the 7th largest importer of Australian table grapes.
“The Philippines is a key exporting country for Australia, and the Australian table grape industry has worked hard to educate and promote Australian grapes to Filipino consumers,” she said.
“Australian total exports over the last year have increased 33%, whilst exports to the Philippines have increased by 41%.
“Looking at the 2020 crop forecast table, the main table grape variety exported to the Philippines from previous years, Thompson and Crimson seedless, increased production volumes by 7.4 and 6.6 per cent respectively.
“Moving forward, the 10-year forecast for the main varieties to the Philippines will increase substantially.” Australian Table Grapes Association CEO Jeff Scott said several new varieties were coming into production for export this year such as; Sweet Surrender, Ivory Seedless, Sweet Nectar, Magenta, Sweet Globe, Sweet Celebration and Luisco seedless to name a few.
“Many growers have planted new varieties in large numbers under commercial licences and have commenced exporting,” he said.
“If any variety proves successful or demand is high from importing countries, additional plantings will take place to satisfy demand.”
Mr Scott said Thompson Seedless and Crimson Seedless were still expected to be Australia’s main export varieties.
“Australia’s most sought-after varieties by importing countries – Thompson seedless, is forecast to increase by 30 percent to 76,000 tonnes and Crimson seedless is expected to increase 70 per cent to 122,000 tonnes,” he said.
“Whereas Red Globe, being a seeded variety, is anticipated to have no change at 30,000 tonnes.”
“As an industry we are seeing year on year growth in table grape exports and this is a very pleasing outcome for growers.”
Mr Scott presented an industry update during the trade activities in Philippines providing key stakeholders with a seasonal overview of the 2020 crop forecast and the 5-10-year crop yield predictions.
He also addressed new and emerging quality and safety standards and highlight the benefits of Phytosanitary Irradiation or X-ray technology which is used as a post-harvest treatment for grapes.
“Australian farmers have strict traceability systems in place and all growers are required to undergo extensive training to be accredited to allow exports,” he said.
“Phytosanitary Irradiation takes two hours to complete and involves a wave of energy like light or sound. It is chemical and heat free, cold chain friendly and importantly, it leaves no chemical or radioactive residue.”
Mr Scott said because the treatment was so quick and non-invasive, it allowed for immediate air freight.
“This means Australian grapes could be in the Philippine market within 2-3-day post-harvest, which allows for longer shelf life of the grapes,” he said.