Storing tropical fruits at the optimum temperature is critical to prevent many post-harvest problems, the International Conference on Post-Harvest Handling of Tropical Fruit was told recently.

Queensland Fruit & Vegetable Growers (QFVG) economist, Margie Milgate, attended the conference held from July 19 to 23 in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Ms Milgate attended the event on behalf of the organisation during her annual leave.

"The big message that came out of the conference was that the maintenance of products at the optimum temperature was a critical issue for tropical fruit producers," she said.

"A number of speakers said that storing products at the correct temperature would inhibit many common post-harvest diseases and problems we now have.

"Growers can do everything right in the field and in the packing shed, but if they do not get the storage conditions right, they will not be able to present a good product to the consumer.

"It appears that more work will need to be done to determine the optimum storage conditions for many tropical fruits."

Ms Milgate said greater export co-operation between Australia and south-east Asian nations was urged at the conference.

"It was suggested that Australian tropical fruit growers could link with producers in Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia in supplying products year round to cooler climate nations," she said.

"It was noted that Australia's main marketing advantage was being 'cross-seasonal' to other tropical fruits producers to our north.

"The conference was told that emerging South American tropical fruit producers posed the biggest threat to the traditional Asian suppliers.

"Statistics presented at the conference revealed that exports of tropical fruits to wealthy Asian nations like Japan and Korea were coming more and more from South American countries, which were benefiting from North American investment and transfer of technology.

"There is a significant shift away from the more traditional lower cost producers like the Philippines and Panama to these now technologically-advanced nations."

Ms Milgate said there was strong Australian involvement at the conference, which was jointly organised by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).

"Australian research highlighted at the conference was regarded as some of the best in the world," she said.

"The perception of south-east Asian nations is that Australian growers are technologically advanced and innovative and that Australian produce is very good, even though they don't see a lot of it in their markets."

Ms Milgate said QFVG was the only Australian farming organisation represented at the conference

Queensland Fruit & Vegetable News, Thursday, August 12, 1993

DATE: January 1994

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