Local fruit grower Moora Citrus has become the first citrus operator in the state to begin exporting commercial quantities of fruit to China and Hong Kong.
In August, the farm produced about 6,000 tonnes of fruit, with an amount of that slated for overseas export.
It’s been a long journey for the team running Moora Citrus, who built the company from the ground up intending to develop a robust commercial base.
Moora Citrus representative Elizabeth Brennan said the harvest was the result of a lot of hard work and dedication.
“We have worked hard to attract great team of staff and industry leading consultants that have enabled us to capitalise on the agricultural development opportunities in the region,” she said.
“Significant capital investment, which has been difficult to maintain during the global financial crisis, and access to water were crucial in creating the long-term vision of producing fresh, local fruit for WA and beyond.”
Ms Brennan said that, while the company will continue to develop its exports, the core of the business remains in supplying the local WA market.
“Prior to planting our first tree, independent research showed that 60 per cent of oranges that Western Australian’s consumed were either imported from the eastern states or overseas,” she said.
“We believe that Western Australians will always support the local grower and so we will continue to work hard to provide fresh healthy citrus to all Western Australians.
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“As long as this relationship exists then we believe that Moora Citrus will be able to develop as an innovative leader in irrigated agriculture.”
The company developed a strong operation from the ground up to ensure that the fruit would be picked and sold as efficiently and effectively as possible.
“Moora Citrus work practices are second to none. We started with a clean slate and so we made sure that we would develop policies and procedures that meet and beat the required standards,” Ms Brennan said.
“Our pest monitoring, pruning, picking, packing, and distribution strategies have been developed to create a ‘just in time’ concept so that our fruit arrives into the WA markets as fresh as possible to meet demand.
“We have spent a lot of energy on marketing our fruit because we want the Western Australian to know that it is their fruit that is growing in their state.
“We believe cultivating the land will always give prosperity to the state of Western Australia because our success will ensure that jobs are created throughout the whole supply chain.
“With the volume of citrus supply from WA growers outstripping the WA demand over the next few years it is important that we have are marketing correct.
“Moora Citrus also recognises that water is its most valuable natural resource and has adopted sophisticated water saving & production technologies.
“The orchard’s irrigation system now maximises water usage for highest fruit production capacity.”
Ms Brennan said that while the Asian market had always been open for local citrus growers, previous harvest levels have not warranted buying into the markets, with changes in development and technology allowing the business to harvest enough to branch out internationally.
“As the orchard has develops we realise that our Asian buyers are a big part of our future,” she said.
“As a result, in the 2015 season we began to export Moora Citrus oranges to China and Hong Kong and we see our Asian buying partners as being a big part of the future.”
Moora Citrus had to adapt to stringent standards on export quality and safety, a process that Ms Brennan said was worthwhile to the future growth of the business.
“To cater to the export standards, Moora Citrus has transformed the management of our skirting, pest control, packing, logistics and compliance,” she said.
“These have all been at significant cost and are necessary for us to be allowed to export fruit.
“Building strong and mutually beneficial relationships with export partners has also been integral to growing our export markets which is constantly evolving.”