Since mid-January of this year, Australian table grape growers have been harvesting and are expected to sell more grapes in 2022 than in 2021.
China remains the main market for grape growers, with sales expected to surpass last year’s A $660 million ($449 million), according to an AusTrade report.
According to the report, China remains a strong market for local Australian growers despite the turmoil caused by the pandemic over the past two years.
“We are still shipping every day to China,” said third-generation table grape grower Rocky Mammone, who is based in the Sunraysia region. “We have developed really good long-term relationships and friendships with our customers over more than 10 years and they remain solid.”
Mammone says the Chinese market is not only large but also stable for imports and exports thanks to good epidemic control, allowing growers to grow and invest more comfortably. In addition to China, he also exports to South Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore, and the Middle East.
Tim Milner is a fourth-generation table grape grower in Australia. His family has been exporting grapes to China for nearly a decade. He has a positive and rewarding relationship with his Chinese buyers. He met his buyer during a Chinese delegation visit to Sunraysia in 2015.
Milner says he has learned immeasurable lessons during his time exporting to the world’s largest market.
“We have spent a lot of time learning and understanding what buyers and consumers in China want,’ he says. ‘We have worked closely with our buyer to refine our presentation and taste,” Milner added.
The biggest challenge for the industry is still related to COVID-19. The complex cargo delays, coupled with lockdown policies across Asia, have created a host of headaches.
These problems were alleviated, in part, by assistance from the International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM). IFAM is a temporary, targeted, emergency support measure put in place by the Australian Government to keep global air links open in response to the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the report, an AUS$72.7 million agribusiness expansion plan is also crucial to help exporters maintain relationships with buyers. The program supports Australian agricultural exporters as they seek to diversify their market base while continuing to increase sales in existing markets.
Last year’s exports were hampered by rising container supplies and shipping costs.