Fake cherries: Growers work with Chinese importers to counter counterfeits

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 26th November 2018

CHINESE cherry importers are working with Tasmanian growers to combat counterfeit fruit ahead of an expected spike in sales soon, when tariffs on fruit and vegetables drop.

The Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA) is helping the importers get more Tasmanian cherries into the Chinese market.

Government, TIA and industry leaders are meeting with Chinese importers to discuss increasing Tasmanian cherry supply to China.

“Our cherries are so highly valued that there is a black market of counterfeit Tasmanian fruit,” TIA Director Professor Holger Meinke said.

“Over the coming months, TIA will be working with Chinese importers and Tasmanian growers to clarify the characteristics that make Tasmanian cherries so highly valued and further improve their marketability.”

Professor Meinke said TIA researchers had worked for nearly a decade with growers, achieving outstanding fruit quality and consistency of yield.

“For example, we discovered how to increase fruit set – by more than double in some varieties – and reduce the cracking in cherries which is caused by late season rainfall.”

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China Australia Free Trade Agreement

Professor Meinke said that the discussions with China were particularly timely.

“Now is the time to act on this. Cherries are highly sought after during Chinese New Year and significant tariffs on fruit and vegetable imports will soon be lifted under the China Australia Free Trade Agreement,” he said.

The TIA has formalised a sustainable agriculture research partnership with the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS).

“We are delighted to partner with CAAS. It is China’s leading agricultural research institution, with 10,000 staff in a nation of 300 million farmers,” Professor Meinke said.

“China is very interested in sustainable agriculture and resource use, which is fundamental to TIA’s research, development and teaching.

“We are negotiating joint research with CAAS under the general themes of soils, water, pollination, horticulture, and food science – all areas of specific TIA expertise – and we are developing a PhD program to tackle these research topics,” he said.