Tasmania’s cherry industry managed to weather the Covid-19 storm during its 2020/21 season with exports up by 40 per cent year-on-year.
Peter Cornish, chief executive of Fruit Growers Tasmania, said it was second-largest export crop on record for the Australian state.
“For the Tasmanian cherry industry to perform so strongly during the pandemic is a great credit to the many years of hard work by our growers”, said Cornish.
“Tasmanian cherry growers continue to invest in the industry, employing more people, increasing production through new plantings, improved grading, sorting and packaging, and a long-term focus on providing the best cherries in the world for the most discerning customers.
“Despite challenges from a shortage of workers, meeting Covid-19 requirements and restricted airfreight availability, a 40 per cent increase is a tremendous outcome for the industry and the Tasmanian agriculture sector”
The largest market for Tasmanian cherries by volume and value, was Hong Kong. This was followed by Vietnam, Taiwan, China and Thailand. These five leading markets accounted for 80 per cent of the cherry exports from Tasmania in 2020/21.
“Our top three markets experienced very strong growth, all increasing by more than 50 per cent. The dedication to fruit quality by our growers, with a longer growing season in the cleanest air and healthiest soils in the world, is a key reason why our cherries are in such demand,” Cornish said.
Tasmanian accounts for 51 per cent of Australia’s cherry export and its 2020/21 campaign was bolstered by the support of the state and federal governments, which helped with labour sorting and logistics through programmes such as IFAM.
The industry’s transport and freight forwarding partners also played a crucial role in this growth in a very difficult environment, with a new Cathay Pacific service to Hong Kong providing a major boost.
“It’s great to see Tasmanian cherry growers leading the way in national cherry exports, maintaining the number one export state position. Even with all the challenges facing growers and exporters over the past year, Tasmanian growers were still excelling and driving this key industry forward,” said Cornish.
“Although, the unit values decreased 17 per cent, we still saw cherry exports lift by volume and value. The long-term trends sees a compound average annual growth of 15 per cent per year overall, which is great for Tasmania. Our cherry industry exports over 2,400 tonnes to more than 20 countries worldwide and to do this it supports employment and businesses across the state from large to very small.”