Far North Queensland bananas and melons have been shipped to Japan, in an Australia-first trial aimed at breaking into the Japanese market.
The red-wax-tipped Ecoganic bananas, grown by Pacific Coast Produce, were sent to a banana tasting promotion event in high-end Tokyo retail store Yaoko.
Emperor’s Pearl melons, grown in Lakeland by Daintree Fresh, also featured at last week’s tasting event.
Queensland produces most of Australia’s melons, and yellow-fleshed varieties are already popular in Japan. Niche varieties like the Emperor’s Pearl offer opportunities for industry growth.
Department of Agriculture and Fisheries horticulturalists have been working with industry partners for four years to analyse the impact of shipping and supply chain conditions such as storage temperature, and ripening conditions, on the appearance and flavour of the fruit.
In another first, the banana shipment was airfreighted directly from Cairns instead of being transported to Sydney before export, saving time and costs.
Direct air travel also makes it easier to maintain optimum supply chain conditions, reducing the risk of food waste and ensuring the fruit arrives in the best condition.
Data from this shipment will look at the possibilities and obstacles of exporting bananas as airfreight from Cairns.
DAF horticulturists will also conduct blind tastings with the Japanese public to identify consumer preferences and compare the Australian-grown bananas with imported fruit.
The results of the project will be fed back to the Australian fruit-growing industry, with a view to local growers tapping into the Japanese market.