Riverina citrus growers head to China

A GROUP of 10 citrus growers from Griffith, in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area are embarking on their first citrus study tour to China supported by the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI).

The Griffith and District Citrus Growers Association Inc (GDCGA) received a Free Trade Agreement Market Entry Grant from Austrade to support the delegation and partnered with DPI's International Engagement team to arrange an itinerary focused on developing the best Chinese market entry strategies for the Griffith citrus industry.

Riverina grower Vito Mancini.

Riverina grower Vito Mancini.

Helen Chen, Senior Project Officer, Missions and Delegations, NSW DPI said this is a unique initiative from a regional group to advance their industry.

"This tour will improve the local industry's capability, make Australian citrus more competitive in the Chinese market by delivering higher quality fruit to the Chinese standards, maximise grower returns, and grow export value for the Riverina citrus industry," said Ms Chen.

Griffith and District Citrus Growers Association Inc (GDCGA) Secretariat, Vito Mancini said the association was pleased to partner with DPI to form the first Riverina delegation to visit the Chinese citrus industry.

"The delegation, involving a number of Griffith citrus growers and pack-house operators, are excited to learn of the opportunities that present themselves in China," he said. "We each have a view to build and grow a sustainable export industry with China.

The growers have a particular interest to learn about Chinese consumer preferences for citrus and would like to meet and exceed their expectations." Chinese consumers continue to expect high quality and safe produce, and Australian products maintain a premium in the Chinese markets for this reason. However, with increasing competition from other countries, there is a compelling need for Australian growers to improve techniques in growing, harvesting, sorting, grading, packaging, and storage, as well as in food safety and decay control to meet Chinese consumers' citrus preferences for lower acid flavour and fruit appearance. China is the largest destination for Australian citrus exports.

As of September 2019, Australian citrus exports to China were worth AUD $176 million, which accounts for approximately 31 per cent of the total citrus export volume.