California plums are set to make their debut in the Australian market later this year, after receiving approval from Australian quarantine authorities.
The breakthrough for plums, which follows the opening of the market to California peaches and nectarines in 2013, will round out the counterseasonal stonefruit offer in Australia.
Marcy Martin, trade director of California Fresh Fruit Association, said success over the past two seasons for California white- and yellow-fleshed peaches and nectarines indicated there would also be good demand for plums.
“At recent meetings I attended in Australia with major retailers and importers, all were positive about the prospects for California plums,” said Martin.
“In addition, they felt the range of varieties and quality of California plums could reinvigorate the market for Australian plum growers during the Australian season.”
Demand for California peaches and nectarines continues to grow. Almost 500,000 cartons (9.6kg) were shipped to Australia in 2014, the first full supply season after access was approved in July 2013.
Because of the strict protocol, all fruit has been airfreighted, after pre-clearance in California by Australian quarantine inspectors. Although the protocol adds significant costs, market demand has been excellent, according to John Baker of Produce Marketing Australia, the Australian representative for California Fresh Fruit Association.
Plums will also likely be airfreighted, he noted, with the supply season forecast to start in late May and continue until October.
“The California Fresh Fruit Association has commenced planning extensive trade, retail and consumer promotions for 2015 and beyond for plums, complementing the programmes already under way for peaches and nectarines,” Martin concluded.