Tasmanian cherry industry blossoms as exports surge with free trade agreements

Tasmania’s cherry industry is growing rapidly, largely thanks to free trade agreements with Korea and Japan.

The state’s biggest cherry exporter, Reid Fruits, won the Tasmanian Exporter of the Year award on Friday night for the second year running.

The awards recognize exporters’ contribution to the economy as well as their innovation and expertise.

A free trade agreement with Korea came into force in December.

As a result the state exported 185 tonnes of cherries into Korea over the summer period compared with just five tonnes the previous year.

Tim Reid, from the Reid Fruits, said the growth was phenomenal.

“The import duty into Korea reduced from 24 per cent down to zero,” he said.

Tasmania is a favorite with Asian markets due to its pest free bio-security status allowing it into markets interstate growers can not enter.

Phil Pyke from Tasmania’s Fruit Growers Association said the industry could never take its eye off the ball when it comes to bio-security.

“We work strongly with government on our bio-security concerns and to their credit they are very, very responsive about the thin knife edge on which our industry sits,” he said.

“If we got fruit fly into this state we would lose all those markets.”

Mr Reid said some Tasmanian cherry growers were about to start planting in different areas of the state to try to accommodate a new demand from Korea.

“Our company’s looking at planting an orchard in the Southern Midlands now which will be at a higher elevation and consequently we’ll be able to harvest the fruit later,” he said.

The operation will include a four hectare-sized retractable roof which will help protect crops from frost and rain.

“It’s on cables and the roof retracts and concertinas up in sections of four meters so we keep the roof open all the time to take advantage of the Tasmanian climate,” Mr Reid said.

“If the rain comes at the wrong time or a frost, the roof will close automatically and save the crop under that roof.”

Mr Reid said there were already sufficient trees planted in Tasmania to see a doubling of the industry in the next three to four years.

By then it is expected the state will grow 50 per cent of Australia’s exported cherries.

Source:http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-10-04/tasmanian-cherry-indudtry-blossoms-as-exports-surge/6825950

The potential for a free trade agreement with China is also being touted as another opportunity for growth.

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