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Debate is raging in New Zealand over the best way for Kiwi apple growers to sell their fruit in Australia next year, according to Weeklytimesnow.com.au.

The report quotes Pipfruit New Zealand chairman Ian Palmer saying he favoured a system of licensing that would help control quality, supply and ensure maximum returns.

Palmer wants to see laws amended, as they were in 2003 for the kiwifruit industry, which has prospered under the guidance of global marketing company Zespri.

“For us, access to Australia is going to require some development,” he said, adding a level of discipline is needed to develop an effective marketing system.

Palmer said there had been reasonable support within the industry for his proposal and he expected a version of it to be in place when NZ began exporting apples to Australia next year.

“We start harvesting in late February, but it depends on what the market options are as to when people would ship fruit,” he said.

“It would be nice to finally give the (Australian) consumer a bit more choice. I understand you have Chinese fuji (apples) in the markets now. I don’t know what they’re like (but) they’re not usually that tasty.”

Palmer said NZ had several different varieties he thought would appeal to Australian tastes.

They included Pacific Rose, Pacific Queen and the NZ-developed Jazz, which is grown on a small scale under license in Australia but available in much greater volumes in NZ.

Palmer said Envy, a new large sweet apple, with red stripes on an orange wash and white flesh that didn’t oxidise, also should be popular.

Palmer said the NZ pipfruit industry was not interested in launching an all-out assault on the markets of Australian growers.

“We’re not looking to just take the Australian growers on, that’s not what market access for us is about,” he said.

“We need to grow the market and increase apple consumption by giving consumers more choice and quality.”

The Weekly Times understands major NZ apple exporter ENZA – which exports more than 30 apple varieties – is not in favour of a licensing regime, but general manager Snow Hardy could not be contacted for comment.

Australia banned NZ apples and pears in 1921 to protect local apple trees from fireblight.

NZ has sought to regain access to the Australian market since 1986 and, after repeated attempts, took the dispute to the World Trade Organisation in 2007 and won on appeal last November. – Weekly Times Australia

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