Morrison Government programs to support Australian exporters negotiate the impacts of COVID-19 have helped lift Tasmanian cherry exports to record figures.
Tasmanian cherry exports increased by 40 per cent in 2020-21, accounting for 51 per cent of Australia’s total cherry exports of 4741 tonnes valued at AU$82.69 million, according to Fruit Growers Tasmania.
Hong Kong, Vietnam, Taiwan, China and Thailand are the leading export markets for Tasmanian cherries, accounting for 80 per cent of the state’s exports.
Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan said the Morrison Government had provided $781.8 million through the International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM) to reconnect global airlinks, helping Australian businesses reach their international customers despite the impact on supply chains caused by COVID-19.
“Our Government is supporting Tasmanian jobs and businesses by ensuring local producers can continue to reach their international customers.
“Since April 2020, IFAM has supported some 50 flights out of Hobart carrying a variety of produce – including cherries, abalone, rock lobster and salmon – to key markets in Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
“Australia is a trading nation and trade creates jobs, drives innovation and underpins our economic growth.”
Member for Bass, Bridget Archer said Tasmanian cherries have some of the best cherries in the world.
“Tasmanians have known for a long time that we have the best cherries in the world and it’s clear from the increase in exports that many other countries agree,” Ms Archer said.
Member for Braddon, Gavin Pearce said the pandemic presented substantial challenges to Tasmanian cherry exporters, but government support helped them through.
“The grounding of international passenger flights during the pandemic left many Tasmanian cherry exporters unable to get their quality produce into key international markets so the IFAM program has provided important support,” Mr Pearce said.
“The extraordinary volume of cherry exports under difficult circumstances is testament to the success of IFAM and our industry’s resilience and ability to adapt.”
Fruit Growers Tasmania CEO Peter Cornish said the 40 per cent increase year-to-year was the state cherry industry’s second largest rise on record.
“For the Tasmanian cherry industry to perform so strongly during the pandemic is a great credit to the many years of hard work by our growers”, Mr Cornish said.
“Tasmanian cherry growers continue to invest in the industry, employing more people, increasing production through new plantings, improved grading, sorting and packaging, and a long-term focus on providing the best cherries in the world.
“The industry has been greatly helped by the Australian Government’s air freight support through the International Freight Assistance Mechanism during this period.”
Victoria (32 per cent), New South Wales (13 per cent) and South Australia (4 per cent) also successfully exported fresh cherries abroad in the past 12 months.