Australian Premium Dried Fruits (APDF) is keen to work with table grape growers in Sunraysia to dry the fruit they cannot sell as fresh in 2021.

APDF CEO Craig Greenwood said that his company was hearing from table grape growers that this season has created a number of issues for them marketing their fruit.

“We are hearing three main issues from the early phone calls we have received,” Mr Greenwood said.”

“The first is that some vineyards have not developed consistent sized fruit, which the premium export markets do not prefer. In the current market, it is hard to sell this product at a price that justifies the picking cost.
“The second and third are both heavily related to COVID-19 impacts, which are labour supply shortages that is a main topic in the media at present, and the export market demand being subdued at the premium end compared to previous seasons.”

APDF has done trials on creating a process to manage table grape fruit through the processing into a high quality finished good.

This has been the main issue for dried fruit processors when handling fruit grown for fresh markets, as it is more difficult to handle than fruit grown specifically for the dried sector.

“The issue is that the sizing sprays used to increase berry size also increase the stem size, this in turn means berries tend to be much more difficult to remove from the stem during processing, which creates large losses and low quality products,” Mr Greenwood said.

“Not all varieties are suited to dried fruit, as they may contain seeds, be too large or have chemicals used that are not allowed for dried product, so the opportunity will still need to be assessed on a grower by grower basis.
“The dried grape industry is in a much different situation to many of the other horticultural industries in Sunraysia.
“Our total industry production is less than half the domestic consumption of 30-35,000 tonnes, so we are not as exposed to the slow down in some key Asian export markets that other industries are currently experiencing.
“Hopefully the impact of COVID-19 on other industries is short lived and the markets return to a similar level of demand within 12 months, but in the mean time we see an opportunity to increase our own volume while assisting table grape growers to get some revenue for the fruit they cannot move in the fresh markets.”

For more information contact APDF Grower Liaison Officer Larry Dichiera at larry@apdf.com.au or telephone 0488 199 221.