Importation proposal for fresh Malaysian decrowned pineapple

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 21st January 2013

The Australian Federal Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) is working towards permitting importation of fresh decrowned pineapples from Malaysia.

The move is likely to mean that Australian supermarkets will be able to source fresh pineapples directly from Malaysia, adding significant market pressures on Queensland growers.

Growcom, the peak Queensland-based industry body, in a December 2011 submission to DAFF, had rejected the DAFF’s risk assessment of Malaysian fresh decrowned pineapple as ‘very low’. Representing the $79 million Australian pineapple industry, Growcom  argued that the evidence was too ‘scant’ to reach a confident risk assessment and called for further research on latent pathogens, notably the species Dickeya which causes bacterial fruit and heart rot. To reach firmer conclusions, the Queensland industry offered to fund further research already underway at the University of Hawaii.

Similar concerns were echoed by Queensland’s Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation which argued for a ‘moderate’ assessment and consequent extra biosecurity measures associated with the bacterial risk.

While DAFF says it made ‘minor changes’ following these submissions, the overall risk assessment did not alter the report’s conclusion.

Decrowning, the process of removing the fruit’s crown and basel leaves, is considered by DAFF as an effective method in reducing the risk associated with weed pest species.

After determining the policy in late December 2012, DAFF now only requires further investigation on-site in Malaysia and agreement from the Malaysian authorities, before importation will be viable.

Additional quarantine conditions have been set out in DAFF’s IRA report and include fumigation procedures, packaging and labelling requirements and specific conditions for storage and transport.

The stated conditions are similar to those currently met by Thailand and the Philippines from which, between January 2010 and December 2012, 55 tonnes of fresh pineapple were imported into Australia.

In addition, Sri Lanka and the Solomon Islands also currently export fresh pineapple into Australia.

DAFF is working in Malaysia on-site conducting work in conjunction with the Malaysian Department of Agriculture.