18 Aug 2011

NZ finally able to export apples to Australia

5:08 pm on 18 August 2011

Apple growers are celebrating the end of a long battle to gain access to markets in Australia.

Biosecurity Australia has issued its final import risk analysis on importation of apples from New Zealand and is satisfied that any risks associated with introducing fire blight, European canker and apple leaf curling midge can be managed.

Pipfruit New Zealand says growers are overjoyed and eager to get fruit into Australia within the next few weeks.

Chief executive Peter Beaven says packhouses have to go through an audit process with Biosecurity Australia. Four packhouses have so far done that, but it is likely more will seek to do that when the new season begins in February next year.

Mr Beaven says the first varieties to be sent are likely to be apples not available to the Australian consumer, including Pacific Rose and Pacific Queen.

However, he says it is likely growers will also send other varieties such as Fuji and Royal Gala.

Mr Beaven says it is for exporters and their importers to negotiate when apples will appear on Australian supermarket shelves. He says one or two supermarkets have expressed reservations, saying they are loyal to the Australian industry, but believes it is a barrier that will be broken down over time.

Mr Beaven says with 500,000 New Zealanders living in Australia, he expects sales to take off pretty quickly.

The ban has been in place since 1921. The saga ended in a case at the World Trade Organisation that was finally settled in New Zealand's favour late last year.