The sweet taste of Australian persimmons are now being enjoyed in Thailand after the the first shipment arrived on one of the last remaining flights out of country due to COVID-19 restrictions.
And no sooner had it hit the shelves in Thailand on March 27, the popularly consumed fruit (worth $23 million in imports) had sold out.
It was the first shipment of any fresh produce from Australia to Thailand to use chemical and heat free phytosanitary irradiation under a new protocol negotiated by the federal Government.
The shipment that left Brisbane on March 25 marks a significant step forward for the persimmon industry, which has gone through a "far from ideal" season with drought, then rain during harvest.
"This is an exciting opportunity for the persimmon industry and all horticulture industries ... we were very committed to making this happen," said Queensland persimmon grower, Ross Stuhmcke, whose fruit was in the first shipment.
Currently only Queensland persimmons have access to Thailand, but Persimmons Australia president Chris Stillard hoped the success of the shipment would lead to the protocol being extended to other states including NSW where the fruit was also grown.
"It has not been an easy task to achieve this first shipment, there are a lot of steps in the chain from the farm to the market. However, now that we have proven this pathway and with hopefully better weather conditions next year, we are looking forward to doing an extended trial in 2021," Mr Stillard said.
Ben Reilly from Steritech, the treatment provider, said phytosanitary irradiation had been growing in both regulated acceptance and use around the world as a safe, fast and effective alternative to heat and chemical based processes.
"As markets seek fresher, higher quality fruit to meet increasing consumer demands, Australia has been a leader in the development and application of phytosanitary irradiation. It is being used to facilitate two-way trade between Australia and Thailand, expanding Australia's export opportunities while also protecting them from foreign pests," Mr Reilly said.
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said the shipment showed the commitment to expanding market access for Australian agricultural products, even during unprecedented and challenging times.
"While our farmers and exporters face the challenges created by the drought and now COVID-19, they still managed to trial this new pathway to market," Mr Littleproud said.
"The shipment marks a major milestone for Australian farmers made possible through ongoing collaboration between industry, state and federal governments over close to seven years of negotiations."
(source: Persimmons Australia)
- The 2020 persimmon harvest is in full swing with growers in the southern states reporting excellent yields and fruit quality.
- The drought has had a major impact on the 2020 persimmon crop in Queensland. However, while yields are down and fruit sizes are considerably smaller than normal, the fruit quality is first class.
- Australian persimmons are a delicious fruit, loved for their sweet, honey-like taste. This autumn delicacy is only available from March through to June.
- Sweet persimmons are an excellent source of fibre and are also a great source of vitamin C and beta carotene, making them the perfect, natural immunity booster.
- They are delicious eaten fresh, like a crunchy apple, or as a flavoursome addition to autumn salads and are also perfect for cheese platters.
- Visit www.persimmonsaustralia.com.au for more information.