The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Monday that after 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.
The market opening positions Australia as the seventh most valuable export market for U.S. cherries, USDA said.
U.S. cherries from California have had access to eastern Australian states since the late 1990s and Washington and Oregon have been permitted to export there since 2001. Since that time, negotiations have been ongoing between Biosecurity Australia and USDA to gain access for U.S. cherries to Western Australia, which maintains its own regulations. A final push by importers in Western Australia resulted in the first cherry import into that Australian state last month, and Washington State Fruit Commission-Northwest Cherry Growers used USDA Market Access Program funds to showcase the products as they arrived in Perth.
USDA said the Australia is a rapidly growing market for U.S. cherries. In 2009, a record 2,334 metric tons of cherries valued at $15.6 million were shipped to the Australian market, compared with $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,” USDA said.
According to USDA, 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 imports more affordable. Since U.S. cherries are counter-seasonal to the Australian crop, the products do not compete directly in the marketplace.