Report Synopsis

Post-harvest Management of Fresh Cherries

Tom Eastlake

The Australian cherry industry is one that, like many around the world, have realised that the quality of fruit produced and sold is the principle driver of an acceptable return to the grower. Large, hard, sweet, dark colour and dark flesh, smooth skin, long shelf life and a green stem is what the consumer in Australia and indeed around the world demands.

The Australian grower produces a high-quality cherry and the cold-chain management practice in Australia is very good compared to some parts of the world; however, it does lag behind the world’s best.

Automated packing lines including carton fillers, punnetisers, bag fillers and palletisers provide significant labour savings to growers, but require a large-scale operation which is largely beyond the scale of the Australian cherry industry.

Innovative retailers around the world have migrated to new packaging as a way to increase fruit volumes sold. Australia has lagged behind this trend, with largely stagnant retail sale results.

Better presentation of fruit and fruit of a consistent standard gives consumers increased confidence in product which drives a willingness to purchase and consume more product.

Australia is a large country and freight distances can be very long. Thus, it proves difficult in to implement cost-effective ways to pack into new packaging types, such as punnets and bags, on farm.

The viewpoint that a grower’s responsibility ends at the farm gate needs to change and growers need to be willing to adapt all the way to the retail level, to ensure they are partnering with businesses who are displaying the same care for the fruit that the farmer has shown in growing it in the first place.