The first consignment of New South Wales’ finest cherries are picked, packed and ready for take-off on flights to Vietnam thanks to the Australian Government’s International Flight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM).
Federal Member for Calare and Minister Assisting the Minister for Trade and Investment, Andrew Gee said the flight, carrying more than 1,000kg of Central West cherries, is bound for Vietnam this week, with additional flights to South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong in the pipeline.
“Our local cherry growers are expecting a bumper season and we want to make sure they can continue to get their high-quality product out into the global market,” Minister Gee said.
"Our growers are renown internationally for their premium, safe and reliable produce. Each year, NSW alone exports around 1,200 tonnes of fresh cherries, worth an estimated $20 million.
“Cherry growers in the Central West have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, with international travel restrictions impacting freight flights and the supply of seasonal farm workers.
“The IFAM has played a critical role in helping to keep our exporters in business and connected to their overseas customers.
“By helping our NSW cherry growers get their high quality produce out into the global market, we are also supporting approximately 7,000 Australian jobs during the peak production period.”
The Government's $669 million investment in the IFAM has supported over 8,000 flights to depart Australia carrying over $3.2 billion worth of high-quality Australian produce to markets around the world.
This has in turn supported over 155,000 jobs, making it a central plank of our nation's recovery from COVID-19.
Fiona Hall of BiteRiot, one of the biggest cherry producers in NSW, will have produce on the first flight to Vietnam this week. Her family has been growing cherries in the rich volcanic soils at the foot of Mt Canobolas for more than 40 years.
“Without IFAM, it would be prohibitively expensive to export this cherry season. We believe IFAM is a great initiative and is vital to the cherry industry maintaining market share, international competitiveness and relationships with consumers and customers globally,” Fiona said.
Minister Gee said the Government fully appreciates Australia’s producers are having to cope with significant disruptions to global supply chains, and is working with Austrade and growers across Australia to find creative and workable solutions to these challenges.
“It’s quite clear that the IFAM program is helping ensure it will be a very cherry Christmas for customers worldwide,” he said.