"There is a huge demand for the Empress mandarins in China"
The demand for Australian produce is incredible and according to Jordan Bain from Pinnacle Fresh, citrus volumes sent from Australia this year are probably going to be up on last year's.
"There is a huge demand for the Empress mandarin in China, it is one of the first mandarins to hit the market and volumes are still limited," explains Jordan. The variety will be marketed by Pinnacle Fresh, Jordan said the farm is still recovering from flood damage from a few years ago and it will be 2-4 years before they are in full production. There has also been significant work and investment on the cleaning of the budwood to ensure the variety is given the very best attention it deserves.
Pinnacle Fresh supplies mainly the wholesale markets in China, sending to Shanghai and Gaungzhou. "We don't have enough volume to supply the other markets, but from these two the mandarins find their way further into China and to the 2nd tier cities. The Chinese market has really changed in the last 5 years, before that imported products really only reached the coastal fringes. In the last few years demand has increased greatly and Australian citrus has gone through a really good time. There is a big demand for all types of citrus in China."
Pinnacle Fresh has been supplying the Chinese market for 5 years, and are reasonably established with receivers there. "We are not a huge player in China and don't want to be. We want to be a leader in in terms of new varietals in the market, they must eat well and be sweet to win over the Chinese consumer," explains Jordan. "It only takes 4-5 containers of bad oranges to kill the market and it can take weeks to repair the damage. We have seen that this season with grape exports."
Jordan said they are working with growers to develop new varieties for the Chinese market. "In the US there is a lot of focus on varieties which are disease resistant due the problems with citrus greening, but we are lucky that here in Australia we can concentrate on other new varieties with other properties."
Pinnacle supply the US market as well as China, around a 50/50 split and in order to supply customers year round they import and export a lot of produce and have offices in Melbourne and California. The company trades many different products but the main ones are citrus, grapes and Cherries.
Whereas in China the wholesale markets are the trading ground, in the US it is the retailers, "In the US you can control the supply chain, in China it is a bit different."
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Cell: +61 438 650 833
Publication date: 7/12/2017
Author: Nichola Watson