Queensland melons back on NZ menus

22nd March 2021 | Eativity editors

Sweet as, bro: New Zealanders can once again enjoy fresh, juicy Queensland melons under new trade conditions agreed to by the Australian government and industry.

New Zealand suspended Queensland melon trade in December 2019 following the detection of cucumber green mottle mosaic virus on melons exported from Queensland to New Zealand. The Department of Agriculture helped the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries to develop a “Pest Free Place of Production” management system, which was endorsed by New Zealand and subsequently enabled the reinstatement of trade.

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud has welcomed New Zealand’s decision to resume receiving melons from the Sunshine State.

“Queensland growers produce some of the world’s most sought-after fruit because of its clean, green and fresh reputation,” Littleproud says.

Aussie watermelons are available year-round, but peak season is from December to May.

The state accounts for a third of Australia’s watermelon production and 38 percent of our rockmelon harvest, and is a major contributor to our $39.3 million melon export industry.

“I am pleased my department, the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries, Queensland authorities and Australian industry were able to reach a workable solution on biosecurity protocols, which is acceptable to all stakeholders,” Littleproud says.

“The resumption of Queensland melon trade with our Tasman neighbours means jobs and certainty for our farmers, and confirms the strength of our bilateral ties.”

The Australian melon industry is valued at $152.1 million, with exports valued at $39.3.

Johnathon Davey, Executive Officer at Melons Australia, has also welcomed the news.

“This will mean getting melon exports back on track and a more normal future,” he says.

In 2019-20, Queensland exported 7945 tonnes of fresh rockmelons (53% of Australia’s total) and 4571 tonnes of fresh watermelons (66% of Australia’s total).

Melons Australia Chairman Paul McLaughlin says the timing of the trade reinstatement is perfect, coinciding as it does with the upcoming harvest.

“It’s back to business for the growers in Queensland who missed out last year,” he says.