Government pledges support for apple growers

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 29th April 2010

The federal government has announced a grant of $100,000 for fruit marketing company Towac Fruit Export Cooperative to develop a strategic plan to help build the competitiveness and resilience of the Australian apple industry, and to maintain domestic and global competitiveness.

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Tony Burke said the apple industry plays an important role in supporting regional communities, with apples being produced in all states.

“Australia’s apple production in 2007-08 totalled 265,000 tonnes with a gross value of $488 million,” Mr Burke said.

“Apple exports in 2008-09 totalled 4,300 tonnes and were valued at $8.6 million.”

The Australian apple industry will be opened to competition from New Zealand apple growers, with news leaked this month that a ban on NZ apple imports will be overturned by the World Trade Organisation.

The ban of nearly 100 years was originally instituted to protect Australian apples from fire blight, but recent research suggests that the possibility of spreading the disease via mature fruit is very low.

New Zealand produce has become a major competitor for Australia, with McCain moving its vegetable processing activities to New Zealand from Tasmania.

The project is one of 14 to share in nearly $1.3 million from the Rudd Government to help promote Australia’s food and forest industries to domestic and export markets.