South Korea’s move to allow Australian blood oranges imports has come at an opportune time for Vito Mancini and his team at Redbelly Citrus.
The Riverina grower made a strategic decision to redevelop his orchard and focus on growing blood oranges several years ago.
With his orchard now entering full production and South Korean tariff rates declining rapidly (an outcome of the Korea Australia Free Trade Agreement), Mancini said today’s (28 April) market access announcement was the final piece of puzzle to fall into place.
“With the significantly lower tariff we have had strong enquiries about our blood oranges this year,” Mancini explained. “While we knew this announcement was on the horizon, we were not able to firm up orders; but our fruit has not yet reached full maturity so the timing is perfect.”
Prior to today’s announcement, Valencias and Navels were the only Australian-grow orange varieties approved for import by South Korea’s Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency.
Citrus Australia market access manager David Daniels said the peak industry body was working to improve access for all of the country's citrus varieties in Asia and further abroad.
“It is great to see that some of our smaller citrus commodities are being progressed for export alongside our big ticket items,” he said.
Mancini was confident Australian blood oranges would appeal to South Korean consumers, with the variety's unique appearance and taste providing a point of difference.
“It is clear to us that the South Korean market places a high value on Australia’s reputation as a safe and reliable supplier, and this is a great opportunity to supply the South Korean market with something that is a little different,” Mancini explained.
John Lloyd, chief executive of research and development corporation Horticulture Innovation Australia (Hort Innovation), praised the collaborative approach that was used secure the policy extension.
“This South Korean expansion is the result of the citrus industry working together with Hort Innovation, Citrus Australia and key government agencies to achieve tangible market access results,” he said.
In a bid to further increase the industry’s footprint in Northern Asia, a series of trials are currently underway to support expanded access for a number of Australian citrus varieties in Japan. The South Australian Research and Development Institute are conducting the trials, which are being funded by Hort Innovation and the Australian government.