Lychee growers

Queensland lychee growers Marcello and Katrina Avolio

A Queensland export and marketing company is celebrating after successfully sending the first commercial shipment of Australian lychees to the United States.

The shipment of 242 cartons, sent by Favco, arrived in the US on 20 December 2016, three years after approval was granted to export Australian lychees to the country.

Favco Business Manager John Nardi worked together with Mareeba lychee grower Marcello Avolio to organise the shipment.

Mr Nardi said the standards required to get the fruit in the US were incredibly high as many protocols, procedures and import hurdles had to be overcome.

“We are working with quality growers and we are very confident they can deliver the quality to meet the requirements of the protocol,” Mr Nardi said.

“In the domestic market there is a 1 to 5% tolerance in defects, but for the USA there is a very low tolerance.”

Mr Avolio’s fruit was carefully inspected with 100 lychees cut open to ensure there were no pests or defects.

This export success is the result of three year’s hard work by the Australian Lychee Growers Association (ALGA), the Federal Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR), Steritech Irradiation Facility, Horticulture Innovation Australia, lychee growers and export agents.

ALGA President Derek Foley said that the quality and taste of the exported Australian lychee had been well received by US consumers.

“The Australian lychee industry and lychee growers taking part in the three-year pilot program have worked hard to ensure shipments of Australian lychee pass all inspections and this will hopefully see the continuation of exports to the US,” Mr Foley said.

Just eight Queensland lychee growers agreed to take part in the program, which required growers’ orchards and packhouses to be audited by DAWR before they got approval to export to the US.

Only US and Australian compatible lychee chemicals could be used on the orchards and growers had to monitor their crops fortnightly to ensure there were no pests of quarantine concern.

Mr Nardi said the Australian lychees are very highly rated in the US in terms of quality so are able to command a premium price.

Exploring new markets is a key business strategy for the Queensland exporter.

“Developing protocols for new market access is the most important thing for our industry,” Mr Nardi said. “Australia has 24 million consumers and we often produce a more than we can use so new export markets are essential.”

The export success follows another first for the Queensland Fruit Company when Favco successfully shipped Australia’s first consignment of KP mangoes to the US in early 2016.

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