New irradiation trade pathway for mango and lychee exports approved

Table grapes passing through Steritech's Melbourne X-Ray facility

Table grapes passing through Steritech’s Melbourne X-Ray facility

The USDA has certified Australia’s Steritech Merrifield irradiation facility in Victoria for the export of horticulture produce with approved irradiation trade pathways to the US.

Acting head of trade at the Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Nicola Hinder said US approval of the Merrifield facility was an important step forward for Australian horticulture export industries interested in seeking access to the US via the irradiation pathway.

“Irradiation is becoming increasingly popular with our horticulture industry, trading partners and consumers to safely treat biosecurity pest risks,” Hinder said.

“It doesn’t involve chemicals, gases, or leave any residues, making it a safe, clean and sustainable treatment option for fresh horticulture products.

Australia already has approval to export irradiated mangoes and lychees to the US from approved facilities in northern Australia.

“Following the Merrifield facility’s certification, these commodities can now be exported to the US via Victoria, expanding Australia’s national capacity for irradiated exports to the US,” said Hinnger.

Fresh produce business manager at Steritech, Ben Reilly said the approval would bring greater flexibility and security to the supply chain for exporters servicing the US market.

“The Melbourne certification will enhance access to different airports to service the US market and expand the number of road and rail freight options to move product to points of export for Australian exporters, most notably Northern Territory-grown mangoes,” Reilly said.

Australian Mango Industry Association chief executive Brett Kelly said the announcement could pave the way for multiple opportunities for the Australian industry.

”Australia, rightly so, has the reputation for having the highest quality produce. Gaining additional access to a large market like the US through expanded use of irradiation could be of great benefit to hardworking Australian farmer families looking to export their quality mangoes overseas,” said Kelly

“It is also an opportunity to ease any future oversupply of fruit on the Australian market and ensure farmers achieve a fair price for their produce. Pathways for export will help keep the Australian mango industry sustainable into the future.”

The Melbourne facility already services high value exports to countries including New Zealand and Vietnam and plays an important role in maintaining interstate trade within Australia while protecting Australia’s biosecurity.