Berries Australia has lamented the fact that the country's blueberry growers continue to miss out by not having market access to China.
A phase one trade deal between the U.S. and China signed this week will lead to the finalization of phytosanitary protocols for U.S. blueberries within three months.
Australian blueberry growers currently cannot export blueberries to China, except for those in Tasmania. This is because there is not an agreed export protocol in place for the treatment of fruit fly.
“Blueberries have been second on the Australian Government’s China horticultural export market access priority list after apples since October 2017, with an initial application lodged as far back as 2010," said Berries Australia president Peter McPherson.
"However, progress toward negotiating the export protocol has been slow, despite the efforts of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources."
Detailed research commissioned by the Australian Blueberry Growers Association (ABGA) in 2017 into the demand for Australian grown blueberries in China revealed that there is a strong and growing market.
The research conducted by Knudsen & Co found there is an existing and growing Chinese demand for Australian blueberries. This demand, it said, recognizes the superior taste, size, food safety and nutritional value of Australian grown blueberries.
“It is very frustrating for the industry knowing that we have a superior product to have to sit by and watch on as a number of other countries have negotiated access for their blueberries into China," McPherson said.
"Countries including Peru, Chile, Argentina, Mexico and now the U.S. have all obtained access.
"It is time for the Australian Government to take a whole of government approach in their trade negotiations with China, including the negotiating of access for blueberries at the highest political levels between the two countries."