NZ apples in Australia

At a glance:

  • NZ apples can be imported to Australia, but only under strict biosecurity protocol to protect Australia from pests and diseases.
  • Existing measures to keep out potentially devastating disease, like fireblight, have so far been effective and APAL strongly supports retaining them.
  • APAL supports supermarkets that promote Australian-grown apples and pears because it reflects consumer preference for Australia’s high quality and safe apples and pears over imported fruit.

New Zealand currently exports a small amount of apples to Australia, but they follow a strict biosecurity protocol to ensure Australian orchards remain disease-free.

Keeping Australian orchards disease-free

In August 2011, the Australian Government announced that NZ was permitted to supply apples provided it followed a very strict biosecurity protocol to prevent potentially devastating pests and diseases from entering the country, including fireblight.

Fireblight is a destructive bacterial disease that occurs in New Zealand orchards and mainly infects apple and pear trees. It is a contagious disease and is a serious concern to the Australian industry because it can destroy an entire orchard in a single growing season. Moreover, there are no effective chemical controls to manage fireblight where it is present.

Australia is currently fireblight-free and Australia’s apple and pear industry and the government want to keep it that way. Likewise, New Zealand has other pests and diseases that we do not have such as European Canker and Apple Leaf Curling Midge. These must also be prevented from entering Australia and posing a threat to our industry.

Any shipments of NZ apples into Australia that do not meet the import requirements will be prohibited. Indeed there have been examples of NZ apples being rejected by Australia because they failed to meet the trade protocol.

Protocol for NZ to import apples to Australia

The protocol to import NZ apples into Australia requires that the fruit is inspected before the apples are shipped.

Australian orchards are currently fireblight-free and growers want to keep it that way.

Australian orchards are currently fireblight-free and growers want to keep it that way.

Specifically a minimum of 600 fruit samples from each lot (one variety per production site per harvest period) of fruit packed must be inspected and found free of quarantine pests and trash. This inspection happens in New Zealand and export lots found to fail this requirement are withdrawn from export to Australia.

In addition Australian quarantine officers will also take a 600 fruit random sample from each consignment for inspection for quarantine pests and trash.

Plus there are checks in place to ensure fireblight, European Canker and Apple Leaf Curling Midge are managed in orchards and that packing sheds are kept clean. The safeguards, which include orchard and pack-house registration, audit and inspections are critical to ensuring undesirable pests and diseases do not enter, establish or spread in this country.

APAL strongly supports the ongoing and effective implementation of the protocol to ensure Australia remains disease-free.

NZ’s work program to export apples to Australia

New Zealand and Australia have agreed on a work program to implement the protocol. This work program can only be changed with the permission of both governments.

According to  a Radio NZ report, NZ’s Ministry for Primary Industries has agreed to additional measures with the New Zealand industry as part of its work program “which mean every apple is inspected before shipment”.

APAL supports thorough and extensive inspection processes that are effective at keeping fireblight out of Australia. The current work program appears to have been effective at this.

Local market for NZ apples

Consumers who prefer Australian apples can identify them by the 'Aussie Apples' sticker.

Consumers who prefer Australian apples can identify them by the ‘Aussie Apples’ sticker.

Between January and December 2013, Australia imported 25 tonnes of apples from New Zealand. This represents a very small amount considering Australia’s total apple production in 2012-2013 (July 2012 – June 2013) was 296,000 tonnes of apples.

The vast majority of fresh apples sold in Australia are Australian grown and each of the major supermarkets – Woolworths , Aldi and Coles – have made a commitment to stock Australian fresh produce whenever it is available.

APAL backs the promotion of Australian apples by Australian supermarkets because it reflects what consumers want. Roy Morgan research shows consumers think it is more important for Australians to buy Australian grown food than it is for them to buy any other Australian made product.

Also, to help promote and support Australian grown apples, Horticulture Australia Ltd, with the help of APAL, runs the ‘Aussie Apples’ marketing and branding campaign. This highly successful campaign has seen Australian-grown apples branded using an ‘Aussie Apples’ sticker.  This makes it easy for consumers to identify Australian apples.

Keeping Australian growers competitive

APAL works with growers to improve productivity and efficiency of the industry to help Australian-grown apples remain competitive with imported fresh fruit. Our Future Orchards® program ensures the latest research and technology is delivered to growers. It is helping growers produce more high quality apples and increase profits.

A major initiative for Australia’s apple industry is the push for an increase in exports. Key stakeholders of the industry are now targeting an increase in exports to 10 per cent of marketable production by 2019.

APAL has an extensive export market development program to help our growers sell their fruit overseas to expand their market opportunities beyond the domestic market. And we manage the promotion and marketing of Pink Lady™ apples internationally.

 

 

By |August 14th, 2014|Hot topics, Industry Issues|

About the Author:

APAL is an industry representative body and non-profit membership organisation that supports Australia’s commercial apple and pear growers.