After years of negotiations, Cherry Growers Australia says cherries from Tasmania’s crop this season could be exported to China.

Growers are in Beijing this weekend securing sale contracts as part of the Australia Fresh stand at the China World Fruit and Vegetable Fair.

Premier Lara Giddings welcomed further indications that Tasmanian cherries would be approved for import.

“China represents a massive growth market for Tasmanian cherry growers, with the potential to expand the industry by more than 30%,” she said.

Tasmania already sells to Taiwan, South Korea and Japan.

Decades-long disease-free status has put Tasmania in a strong position to satisfy stringent Chinese quarantine rules.

Cherry Growers Australia has been working with the Federal Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and the Chinese Agency of General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine to pave the way for cherries to be sold during the Australian season.

The new market should lift exports of Australian cherries from 20% a season (about 2000 tons to about 20 countries) to 50% a season by 2017 (about 6000 tons).

Tasmania has a strong commercial advantage, being able to airfreight cherries within two or three days of harvest.

Growers will be targeting the top end of the market too in the peak counter-seasonal period from early December to Chinese New Year that is celebrated across a number of Asian countries in January or February.

The deal is subject to final protocols being signed next month.

Source: The Mercury Nov 2012

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