Kiwi apples to slash Aussie prices

Last updated 12:20 01/06/2011

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Australians will be eating cheaper apples thanks to New Zealand imports, but it will come at a price to Australia's growers, a new report says.

They are expected to lose a third of their income should Australia let in apples from New Zealand, China and the United States - a loss worth A$140 ($181) million a year.

The report, requested by the local apple industry, says that in just three years, farmers can expect their salaries to go down by 32 per cent, with imported apples securing almost a quarter of the market.

It will be a win for consumers, with prices going down on average 21 per cent.

Apples from New Zealand will be of the same high quality taste-wise, but will be 61 per cent cheaper, while US ones will cost 28 per cent less and Chinese apples 18 per cent less.

Apple consumption will also jump by 17 per cent.

But Australia's apple production sector will ultimately take the fall for those figures, decreasing in size by 11 per cent.

Apple and Pear Australia (APAL) chairman Darral Ashton said the report painted a grim picture for local growers.

''Apples have been imported into Australia for the first time in 90 years due to a change in government regulation,'' he said in a statement on Wednesday.

''It's the biggest challenge our industry has faced since England joined the common market in 1972.''

The first shipment of Chinese apples arrived in Australia at the beginning of the year, while apples from New Zealand could potentially be imported starting August.

Biosecurity Australia is awaiting more information before it gives a formal green light to the importation of US apples.

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