Apple growers fight back against apple imports

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 17th August 2011

Apple growers across Australia today launched a fightback against the apple import trade. The move comes following officially authorised shipments of apples being imported from New Zealand. This follows the decision of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 2010 that found Australia’s biosecurity and quarantine standards to breach WTO rules.

Apple growers have taken the step of branding locally grown apple with an ‘Aussie Apples’ sticker, allowing consumers to choose home-grown apples at the supermarket.

Fourth generation Australian apple grower Brad Fankhauser, of Fankhauser Apples in Victoria said, “Identifying where produce comes from can cause a lot of confusion for shoppers. It’s regulation for produce to be clearly marked with its country of origin at the point of sale, but that’s not always the case.

“Imports will have a huge impact on everyone in the industry. Like many other growers, we’ve been working for the past eight years to increase our production per hectare and ensure we are competitive. I think we are ready to take them on.”

Apple and Pear Australia Limited Chairman, John Lawrenson said, “Our favourable growing environment, healthy soil and the wonderful Australian sun, all contribute to producing some of the highest quality produce in the world.

“The new stickers offer shoppers reassurance that they are buying Aussie apples and by doing so supporting local growers, their families and regional communities across Australia.”

The sticker system has been implemented by Horticulture Australia Limited, a national research, development and marketing organisation, on behalf of the apple growers.

An independent economic report by the Centre for International Economics has shown Australian apple growers could lose a third of their income as a result of apple imports from China, New Zealand, Chile and the US – a loss to the industry of around A$140 million a year.

Federal quarantine regulator Biosecurity Australia today officially gave its go-ahead for the importation of New Zealand apples into Australia.

Apple imports have been allowed into Australia this year for the first time in 90 years, as a result of changes to the Australian government quarantine regulations by Biosecurity Australia. The first imports arrived in small volumes in January 2011, with volumes expected to increase as the market is progressively opened to a number of apple-producing countries.