Sunday 21st Oct, 2018

Fruit exporters in a pickle over VICT picket

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CONSIGNMENTS of apples and pears are among the cargo consignments held up at Webb Dock as a consequence of a picket.

The picket has been in place for two weeks and has forced a halt to operations at the nation’s newest and most modern box terminal.

Australian Horticultural Exporters’ and Importers’ Association chief executive, Dominic Jenkin, said some members had containers of Indonesia-bound pears stuck at the docks with a value of about $45,000 per container.

Even though the containers are chilled preventing the fruit from deteriorating rapidly, Mr Jenkins said there still would be a price to pay.

“The reality is fruit destined for Indonesia had at least a week and a half on the water anyway.

“So, if they had been allowed to depart they probably would only be arriving in port about now,” he said. “I wouldn’t imagine they would have their quality downgraded as of now but what may have happened is the shelf life would have been reduced to the point where they cannot be exported.

“That would see their value downgraded if they were then released onto the domestic market.”

Mr Jenkin said releasing additional volumes onto the domestic market would suppress pricing across the board.

“The other (issue) is these items would have been purchased by an importer who will have had a structured supply program into retail over in these export markets.

“They see themselves being put in a situation where they can’t fulfil their commitments,” he said.

Indonesian importers would look to substitute product from other parts of the world, notably South Africa, a country with lower production costs.

“That offers a market opportunity for our global competitors to move in on our markets,” Mr Jenkins said.

A VICT spokesman told DCN the picket remained in place and the company was seeking further injunctions against picketers.

The Supreme Court hearing is to be held at 3pm Monday.





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