From 1 March 2019, the Australian government’s Office of Transport Security is cracking down on security by introducing piece-level examinations for all outbound international cargo shipments.
Currently, piece-level examinations are only standard for Australian cargo destined for the US, however, the requirement will soon be made for all outbound air shipments. That includes all fresh produce.
Dominic Jenkin, CEO of the Australian Horticultural Exporters and Importers Association (AHEIA), said the changes will significantly increase the cost of exporting fresh fruit and vegetables from Australia.
Each individual box of produce will need to be screened by a Regulated Air Cargo Agent, using technology like x-ray, or be physically inspected.
After screening and loading fees, The AHEIA estimates total added costs to the industry at A$0.22/kg (US$0.16) and expects low unit value items like melons and vegetables to suffer most.
Australia currently exports more than 87,000 tonnes of fresh produce annually by air, which accounts for 15 per cent of the country’s total fresh produce exports.
If this figure remains, the total cost increase for the industry predicted by the AHEIA sits at around A$19m (US$14m) annually.