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High-tech foil for cherry cheats

Edition 180_Tasmanian cherries ... sophisticated protection

Laser-cut gold stickers, plastic liners with logos, water marks and unique, single-use QR codes are making forgery more difficult in Tasmania's booming export cherry markets.

Reid Fruits backed its innovative, high-tech packaging with social media posts to alert supply chains in Asia when the genuine article became available.

Cherries labelled fraudulently as Tasmanian produce have appeared in retail outlets in Hong Kong, China and Vietnam over recent seasons.

This year they were on offer in Hong Kong and China two weeks before the start of Reid Fruits' Derwent Valley harvest.

The exporter used Facebook and Chinese social media platform, WeChat, to warn customers about the fakes.

Tim Reid told www.foodMate.com "We are using little cards inside our boxes with a QR code. Each QR code is unique.

"The consumer can scan the card with an iPhone and it will take them to the Reid Fruits' website where they will get a welcome message and confirmation that they have an original box of our cherries.

"However, if the card has already been scanned by someone else they will get a message saying they may have a fake and to go back to the supplier.

"This has had a big impact. In addition, we get data on where the cards have been scanned. This all costs a little bit more, but we need to protect our brand."

The counterfeiters are motivated by premiums being paid for Tasmania's high-quality fruit.

The cheats not only steal sales, they put the valuable Tasmanian brand at risk by falsely labelling cherries of inferior quality that will inevitably disappoint discerning consumers.

A cold spring delayed the start of Tasmania's cherry season and made the fruit expensive in domestic markets, but Tasmania's 100 growers eventually picked more than 4,500 tonnes following a mid-December start.

Reid Fruits, which has expanded exports by 300 per cent in the past three years, expected in December to harvest about 1,200 tonnes — similar to the previous season — but was affected by heavy rain in January.

"We used helicopters to dry the trees as soon as it stopped raining to minimise damage to the fruit," Mr Reid said.

"We probably lost around 10 per cent of our fruit to rain ... but we had some really lovely fruit, just a little bit less of it."Other growers experienced similar or worse reductions.

Sam Rigall told the ABC the yield from 15,000 trees on his Somercotes property at Ross was down approximately 20 per cent.

"In our case it was a wetter than normal spring event," he said. "Then we've had episodic rain events."

He said his midlands crop had probably suffered more damage from wind than splitting from the rain.

Last season the State's total production was around 6,000 tonnes and about 2,870 tonnes, worth more than $50 million, was exported.

China and its Hong Kong gateway accounted for almost 55 per cent of Tasmanian cherry exports.

Investment from China is also changing the face of Tasmanian production.

Five of the last six orchards sold in the State have been bought by Chinese interests.

Fruit Growers Tasmania's Phil Pyke told The Australian: “In the past two years, the whole dynamics of the Tasmanian fruit sector has changed from those traditional, generation farms to the arrival of the foreign investors."

Mr Pyke said almost every cherry orchard in Tasmania was expanding. Total production was expected to double by 2020 to meet export demand, particularly from Asia and the Middle East.

Most local growers lack the capital needed for rapid expansion and Australian corporate investors traditionally have been disinterested in horticulture, so Chinese entrepreneurs are stepping in.

“The reality is that Australians aren’t buying these farms,” Mr Pyke said.

Harbin-based businessman, Min Quan Shi, has bought two cherry and mixed fruit orchards in the Coal River Valley, north-east of Hobart.

He told Matthew Denholm of The Australian that he planned to double or treble his existing 30ha of cherry trees.

Mr Shi has employed a Chinese Tasmanian, Bei Hou, to run Coal Valley Orchard.

The company exports to China and Taiwan and also sells some cherries on local and interstate markets.

Ms Hou, who moved from China to Hobart 10 years ago to study accounting at UTAS, said the potential for growth was massive, with markets across much of China’s north completely untapped.

As well as Tasmania’s “clean, green” reputation in China, the State’s late cherry harvest is perfectly timed.

“Tasmanian cherries are available for Chinese spring festival when the tradition is that people take gifts to visit relatives and friends — and a box of Tasmanian cherries is just the best option,” Ms Hou said.

She said interstate sales were not as attractive to Coal Valley Orchard.

“Business is business — when you can get $20 a kilo on your top grade cherries (in China), you wouldn’t sell that for $10 or $15 (in Australia), would you?”

[Cherries did fetch as much as $69 a kilo in Sydney at Christmas time].

Tasmanian cherry growers are Australia's only producers with fruit-fly-free status.

They have benefited from trade agreements with China and the Republic of Korea, with lower tariffs kicking in on New Year's Day.

"It is impossible to fill all of our orders," Mr Reid said. "So we need to balance it out a bit among our customers."

Image courtesy of the ABC

8 February 2017, Edition 180

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Facts about Tasmania

Tasmania

Tasmania is the southernmost state of Australia, located at latitude 40° south and longitude 144° east and separated from the continent by Bass Strait. It is a group of 334 islands, with the main island being 315 km (180 miles) from west to east and 286 km (175 miles) north to south.

Tasmania

Tasmanians are resourceful and innovative people, committed to a continually expanding export sector. In 2012-13, international exports from the state totalled $3.04 billion. USA, China, Taiwan, India, Japan and other Asian countries account for the bulk of exports, with goods and services also exported to Europe and many other regions.

Geography

Tasmania is similar in size to the Republic of Ireland or Sri Lanka. The Tasmanian islands have a combined coastline of more than 3,000 km.

Geography

The main island has a land area of 62,409 sq km (24,096 sq miles) and the minor islands, taken together, total only 6 per cent of the main island's land area. The biggest islands are Flinders (1,374 sq km/539 sq miles), King, Cape Barren, Bruny and Macquarie Islands.

Geography

About 250km (150 miles) separates Tasmania’s main island from continental Australia. The Kent Group of Islands, one of the most northerly parts of the state, is only 55km (34 miles) from the coast of the Australian continent.

Climate

Twice named 'Best Temperate Island in the World' by international travel magazine Conde Nast Traveler, Tasmania has a mild, temperate maritime climate, with four distinct seasons.

Climate

In summer (December to February) the average maximum temperature is 21° Celsius (70° Fahrenheit). In winter (June to August) the average maximum is 12° C (52° F) and the average minimum is 4° C (40° F). Snow often falls in the highlands, but is rarely experienced in more settled areas.

Annual Rainfall

Tasmania’s west coast is one of the wettest places in the world, but the eastern part of the State lives in a rain-shadow. Hobart, the second-driest capital city in Australia, receives about half as much rain as Sydney.

Annual Rainfall

Annual rainfall in the west is 2,400 mm (95 inches), but hardy locals insist there is no such thing as bad weather, only inadequate clothing. If you travel 120 km east to Hobart, you experience a much drier average of 626 mm (24 inches) a year.

Population

The 512,875-strong community spreads itself across the land; less urbanised than the population of any other Australian state. Hobart, the capital city, is home to more than 212,000 people.

Capital City

Hobart nestles at the foot of Mt Wellington (1,270 m / 4,000 ft) and overlooks the Derwent Estuary, where pods of dolphins and migrating whales are sometimes seen from nearby beaches. Surrounded by thickly forested rolling hills, the city is home to the state parliament and the main campus of the University of Tasmania.

Capital City

Its historic centre features Georgian and Regency buildings from colonial times. Hobart is home port for coastal fishing boats, Antarctic expeditions and vessels that fish the Southern Ocean.

Land Formation

Mountain ranges in the south-west date back 1,000 million years. Ancient sediments were deeply buried, folded and heated under enormous pressure to form schists and glistening white quartzites.

Land Formation

In the south-west and central highlands, dolerite caps many mountains, including Precipitous Bluff and Tasmania's highest peak, Mt Ossa (1617 m / 5300 ft). More than 42 per cent of Tasmania is World Heritage Area, national park and marine or forest reserves.

Flora

Vegetation is diverse, from alpine heathlands and tall open eucalypt forests to areas of temperate rainforests and moorlands, known as buttongrass plains. Many plants are unique to Tasmania and the ancestors of some species grew on the ancient super-continent, Gondwana, before it broke up 50 million years ago.

Flora

Unique native conifers include slow-growing Huon pines, with one specimen on Mt Read estimated to be up to 10,000 years old. Lomatia tasmanica, commonly known as King's holly, is a self-cloning shrub that may well be the oldest living organism on earth. It was discovered in 1937.

Fauna

Tasmania is the last refuge of several mammals that once roamed the Australian continent. It is the only place to see a Tasmanian devil or eastern quoll (native cat) in the wild and is the best place to see the spotted-tailed quoll (tiger cat), all carnivorous marsupials.

Fauna

The eastern bettong and the Tasmanian pademelon, both now extinct on the Australian continent, may also be observed.

Fauna

The Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine, was Australia's largest surviving carnivorous marsupial and is a modern day mystery. The last documented thylacine died in captivity in 1936 and although the animal is considered extinct, unsubstantiated sightings persist.

History and Heritage

Aboriginal people have lived in Tasmania for about 35,000 years, since well before the last Ice Age. They were isolated from the Australian continent about 12,000 years ago, when the seas rose to flood low coastal plains and form Bass Strait.

History and Heritage

Descendants of the original people are part of modern Tasmania's predominantly Anglo-Celtic population.

History and Heritage

Tasmania was originally named Van Dieman’s Land by the Dutch explorer Abel Janszoon Tasman in 1642. The island was settled by the British as a penal colony in 1803 and the original name was associated with the convict era. It was changed to Tasmania when convict transportation stopped in 1853.

Economy

A resourceful island culture has generated leading-edge niche industries, from production of high-speed catamaran ferries and marine equipment to lightning-protection technology.

Economy

Tasmanians produce winches and windlasses for some of the world's biggest ocean-going pleasure craft; large-scale inflatable evacuation systems and provide specialist outfit-accommodation services to the marine industry.

Economy

The Wooden Boat Centre at Shipwrights Point has re-established the skills and traditions of another age and attracts students from around the world.

Economy

Tasmania is a world leader in natural turf systems for major sporting arenas and in areas of mining technology and environmental management. Its aquaculture industry has developed ground-breaking fish-feeding technology and new packaging.

Economy

Tasmanians sell communications equipment to many navies and their world-class fine timber designers and craftsmen take orders internationally for furniture made from distinctive local timber.

Economy

The state is a natural larder with clean air, unpolluted water and rich soils inviting the production of 100 varieties of specialty cheeses, as well as other dairy products, mouth-watering rock lobsters, oysters, scallops and abalone, Atlantic salmon, beef, premium beers, leatherwood honey, mineral waters, fine chocolates, fresh berry fruits, apples and crisp vegetables.

Economy

Tasmania is a producer of award-winning cool-climate wines, beers, ciders and whiskies. Other export products include essential oils such as lavender, pharmaceutical products and premium wool sought after in Europe and Asia. Hobart is a vital gateway to the Antarctic and a centre for Southern Ocean and polar research.

Economy

The industries in Tasmania which made the greatest contribution to the state's gross product in 2010-11 in volume terms were: Manufacturing (9.4%), Health care and social assistance (8.2%), Financial and insurance services (7.2%), Ownership of dwellings and Agriculture, forestry and fishing (each 7.1%).

Getting to Tasmania

Travel is easy, whether by air from Sydney or Melbourne, or by sea, with daily sailings of the twin ferries Spirit of Tasmania 1 and 2 each way between Melbourne and Devonport throughout the year.

This site has been produced by the Brand Tasmania Council © 2014

Brand Tasmania

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