The cherry export process explained

Aug. 10, 2023 | 5 Min read
The Australian cherry industry has been growing over the last few years, and it is expected that the growth will continue for the foreseeable future.

The Australian cherry industry has been growing over the last few years, and it is expected that the growth will continue for the foreseeable future, Patrick Ulloa* writes.

Part of that growth has been sustained by having access to export markets that continue to show a good appetite for quality cherries.

Without access to good export markets, the industry would risk reaching saturation of the domestic market, causing a serious impact on the potential profitability of our growers.

Expanding into international markets has become a necessity. Fortunately, we are sufficiently close to Asian markets which have already developed or are developing a taste for sweet cherries.

Asian markets: a promising opportunity

Asia presents a promising opportunity for Australian cherry exporters. Asian consumers recognise the health benefits, convenience, and exceptional taste of cherries. As these markets continue to grow, there is a rising demand for premium fruit.

Australian growers can position themselves as trusted suppliers of high-quality cherries, catering to this demand and commanding premium prices.

Our ability to airfreight our fruit to these markets presents a significant advantage for Australia as our product can land in export markets in a very short time, allowing customers to take advantage of the extended shelf life with its accompanying supply chain flexibility and for consumers to enjoy real freshness.

Balancing the benefits and risks of exporting

There is no doubt that getting involved with exports presents opportunities for growth and increased profits, but it is important to balance the potential benefits with the risks associated with targeting and supplying overseas markets. Some of the benefits include diversification of your customer base and spreading your business risk.

Expanding overseas can stimulate business growth and improve the performance of exporting businesses. There are opportunities to streamline production processes and make them more efficient.

Targeting the increasing middle-income segments in countries such as China and India could become immensely beneficial for many Australian producers.

On the other hand, cherry exporters also need to acknowledge and address the increased risks of supplying overseas markets.

Failing to meet paperwork and compliance requirements can lead to delays, confiscation, or return of your cherries at your expense. It is essential to understand and comply with all the regulatory obligations to avoid these types of issues.

Exporters also need to do extra work to find reliable and sustainable business partners in foreign markets. This means conducting thorough due diligence to minimise the risk of dealing with untrustworthy partners.

There are many hidden costs associated with exporting that must be considered. There will be travel expenses, legal fees, packaging updates, regulatory compliance, treatment requirements, and shipping logistics, just to mention a few of those costs.

Making sure you get paid for your product is another risk that must be tackled at the very beginning of the process to avoid surprises later. Thorough planning, strong partnerships, reliable logistic providers, and continuous monitoring of the supply chain go a long way to minimise export risks.

Managing export risks

Having a good understanding of the export process helps cherry growers minimise any potential risks associated with the export business.

Without some guidance, this process can be confusing to industry people who are getting into exporting for the first time or for staff members who are new to the business and need to learn what must be done to meet all the necessary requirements to successfully export cherries.

Managing the export process

It is important to understand that when we export fresh cherries, we are dealing with a product that is classified as a ‘prescribed good’. That means that the export of cherries is regulated and must meet all relevant Australian and importing country regulations.

You cannot export cherries unless each consignment is given a government-endorsed ‘Export Permit.’ And before issuing an export permit, the Department of Agriculture (DAFF) verifies that all export requirements have been met.

The specific regulations a cherry exporting business must meet depend on the importing country that is being targeted as a potential market.

Each country has its own rules and regulations that exporters must meet if they want to sell their products in that country. But even though each country has different regulations, those importing countries can be grouped or classified in a way that makes it easier for exporters to assess how difficult the access will be.

Following that idea, importing markets can be classified as:

• closed

• unregulated

• moderately regulated

• highly regulated.

As closed markets prohibit the importation of Australian cherries, there is no need to do any further analysis regarding those markets.

Unregulated markets such as Malaysia, Singapore, and Hong Kong, on the other hand, have minimal compliance efforts.

Moderately regulated markets such as Indonesia, The United States, and Vietnam demand a phytosanitary certificate and may require treatments like fumigation or cold treatment.

Highly regulated markets such as Thailand, China, and Korea demand farm and packhouse accreditations, crop monitoring, DAFF audits, and potentially fumigation or cold treatment as well.

Step-by-step export process

Apart from selecting markets according to their commercial potential and how regulated they are, exporting businesses need to follow a series of sequential steps each season that allows them to systematically meet all requirements and be ready to export successfully. The export process can include the following steps:

• planning and preparation

• orchard management (if required)

• packhouse management (if required)

• end-point treatments (if required)

• export authorisation

• freight and logistics

• in-market clearance

• ongoing commitment.

Normally, as the season gets busy, it is easier just to focus on steps 2 to 7 as we know we cannot get our products to market unless we pay attention to those steps.

However, planning and preparation and ongoing commitment to export markets are the steps that will determine whether an exporting business will be able to cultivate long-term opportunities that will bring the sustainable success the cherry exporter seeks.

*Patrick Ulloa is the export development coordinator – Cherry Growers Australia.

Categories Cherries