Greater Shepparton City Council is confident a stone fruit protocol inked this week will open new trade pipelines into China and may lead to the expansion of production in the region.
The signing opens the door for Australian plums, peaches and apricots to be exported into China, where barriers previously existed.
Mayor Dinny Adem said while the council was encouraged conversations had been positive, ‘‘this announcement has come ahead of our expectations and has the ability to initiate a major boom for the Goulburn Valley fruit industry and our entire regional economy’’.
‘‘Within the Goulburn Valley we produce 70 per cent of the national peach crop, 49 per cent of the national plum crop and 43 per cent of the national apricot crop.’’
‘‘This announcement will no doubt deliver enormous benefits to our stone fruit growers, and with the stone fruit season fast approaching it is perfect timing for the region,’’ Cr Adem said.
Council chief executive Peter Harriott described the development as ‘‘fantastic news, and a good opportunity for our local growers’’.
He suggested it could lead to opportunities for the expansion of operations.
Mr Harriott said there was ‘‘definitely a market’’ in China and strong interest in Australian stone fruit.
He said the signing would mean the region could move from spruiking local stone fruit to actually selling it and on recent trips to China buyers had been interested in fruit from the region.
‘‘But because of protocol situation, we couldn’t do much more than promote.’’
‘‘Now we can actually do more than promote it,’’ Mr Harriott said.
He said a fruit logistica expo in Hong Kong next year could prove an important platform.