Cherries first U.S. fresh fruit to gain access to Western Australia market

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 15th September 2011

Montmorency sour cherryAfter 10 years of negotiations, U.S. cherries can now be exported to Western Australia, making cherries the first U.S. fresh fruit to gain access to that market.

U.S. cherries from California have been common in the eastern states of Australia since the late 1990s as the states of Washington and Oregon have been permitted to export to the eastern Australian states since 2001. Since that time, negotiations have been ongoing between Biosecurity Australia and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to gain access for U.S. cherries to Western Australia, which maintains its own state regulations.

A final push by importers in Western Australia resulted in the first cherry import into that Australian State last month. Washington State Fruit Commission/Northwest Cherry Growers used USDA Market Access Program funds to showcase the products as they arrived in Perth, the capital of Western Australia.

According to the USDA, the Australian market is a rapidly growing market for U.S. cherries. A spokesperson for the USDA explained, “In 2009, a record 2,334 metric tons of cherries valued at US$15.6 million were shipped to the Australian market, compared with US$1.4 million in 1999 when the market first opened.

“Over the years, USDA and the California and Pacific Northwest cherry industries have worked together to develop the scientific research needed to support the phytosanitary negotiations between USDA and Biosecurity Australia. These efforts, along with strong industry market development, have nurtured and maintained exports to this market.”

The spokesperson added, “U.S. cherries are sold in Australia at a competitive price close to that of Australian product, as the Australian dollar has strengthened considerably in the last two years, making North American imports more affordable.

Since U.S. cherries are counter-seasonal to the Australian crop, the products do not compete directly in the marketplace and fill a popular niche for Australian consumers in the Australian winter months.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the market opening now positions Australia as the seventh most valuable export market for U.S. cherries.