Australia’s table grape growers are calling on local consumers to show Chilean imposters the door when the first ever shipment arrives by air this week, with a second due shortly after by sea.
Already reeling from the effects of drought and flooding, farmers say the cheap imports are just another kick in the guts for the industry when there is an abundance of fresh, high quality, inexpensive local produce taking centre stage in supermarkets and greengrocers all over the country right now.
Australian Table Grape Association CEO, Jeff Scott, said that while the importer and destination would not be known until the grapes arrive, the act of bringing in foreign produce during peak season is despicable and irresponsible.
“Australia produces the best table grapes in the world,” Mr Scott said.
“Consumers need to know the quality of the Chilean produce just doesn’t stack up because it has to be fumigated with methyl bromide to kill any insects as well as being treated with sulphur dioxide and carbon dioxide,” he said.
“Methyl bromide discolours table grape stems and causes blemishes on the berries, significantly reducing the fruit’s shelf life.”
Mr Scott said the bromine in methyl bromide is an extremely potent ozone-destroying gas, even stronger than the chlorine released by the breakdown of chloroflourocarbons which are most commonly associated with climate change.
“There’re no buts about it – Australian grapes crush their Chilean counterparts on quality, taste and value. Consumers need to check the country of origin label before deciding to Munch-A Bunch-A grapes, and for the sake of their taste buds, the environment and the local industry, reject the Chilean invaders,” Mr Scott said.
More than 1,000 Australian growers produce about 125,000 tonnes of table grapes each year.