Biosecurity Fact Sheet: Strawberries from Japan

​​​​Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, November 2017

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Key points

  • The department is conducting a review of biosecurity import requirements for fresh strawberries from Japan.
  • A draft report is being prepared for stakeholder comment and is expected to be released in early 2018.
  • A biosecurity liaison officer will keep the strawberry industry informed about the review.

Australian-Japan trade

Australia and Japan have a strong two-way trading relationship, with agriculture exports to Japan worth more than $4.7 billion in 2016-17. The main exports to Japan include wheat and barley, wine and horticulture (oranges, mandarins, macadamias, table grapes and asparagus). In 2015-16, agricultural imports from Japan were worth $236 million.

Rationale for the review

The department received a formal market access request from Japan for strawberries, which is their highest priority horticultural new market access request.

As a World Trade Organization member, Australia is required to assess market access proposals and develop the least trade restrictive and scientifically justified import conditions. The same scientific principles are used by our trading partners when assessing Australian commodities.

Australia currently permits imports of fresh strawberries from New Zealand, the United States of America (California) and the Republic of Korea, provided they meet Australia’s biosecurity requirements. The department recently completed a risk analysis for fresh strawberry fruit from the Republic of Korea.

A preliminary assessment of the pests associated with strawberries from Japan indicates they are the same as, or similar to, quarantine pests of strawberries from New Zealand, the USA (California) and the Republic of Korea. The potential arthropod pests or pest groups of quarantine concern are: spotted wing drosophila, thrips and mites. The potential pathogens of quarantine concern are: angular leaf spot and brown rots. Given the similar pests of concern and that there are appropriate risk management measures for these pests, the risk analysis for fresh strawberries from Japan will be conducted as a review of biosecurity import requirements (non-regulated risk analysis).

Strawberry production in Japan

The majority of strawberries in Japan are produced in greenhouses. Fruit is harvested from November to May. Japan produces a large variety of strawberries in the main production areas of Tochigi, Fukuoka, Kumamoto, Shizuoka and Nagasaki prefectures, which all compete to develop premium varieties. Several types of strawberries, such as the white strawberry (Hatsukoi no Kaori), achieve high prices for their unusual characteristics and are marketed as gifts rather than for general consumption.

Japanese varieties of strawberry are soft and have to be harvested and packed by hand to prevent damaging the fruit. Producers and researchers are developing improved shipping methods and new varieties with longer shelf life to address these issues.

Strawberry production in Australia

In Australia strawberries are grown all year round by approximately 250 growers. The peak production period for Queensland and Western Australia is from June to October, and for southern areas is from October to May.

In 2015-16, Australia produced more than 72,000 tonnes of strawberries valued at AU$380 million, of this around 3,000 tonnes of fresh strawberries, worth $25.8 million were exported. There has been very limited imports of strawberries into Australia in recent years (Horticulture Innovation, 2016).  

Strawberries from the Republic of Korea

Australia completed a non-regulated risk analysis for fresh strawberry fruit from the Republic of Korea in January 2017 with import conditions published on BICON on 25 August 2017.

The import conditions for Korean strawberries include mandatory methyl bromide fumigation offshore for spotted wing drosophila, pest free places of production for angular leaf spot and pre-export visual inspection for spider mites and thrips. There are further details in the BICON case on the department’s website.

The risk analysis for strawberries from Japan will utilise the recent policy developed for Korea.

Process for the risk analysis

The objective of undertaking a risk analysis is to ensure that any fresh products imported into Australia are free from unwanted pests and diseases. The department initially identifies pests and diseases associated with fruit or vegetable production and export in the source country that are not present in Australia.

The assessment includes analysis of the potential pests of concern and recommends risk management measures if required. If there are no available risk management measures to effectively manage particular biosecurity risks trade is not permitted until suitable measures are identified.

The department will seek to verify commercial production, packing, and export practices in the source country before determining any phytosanitary measures to be applied to mitigate any potential risks that do not achieve Australia’s ALOP.

If the final risk analysis recommends importation there are a number of steps required before imports can commence as shown in the diagram below. Any importation of fresh strawberries would be a commercial decision between an importer in Australia and an exporter in Japan who can meet the import conditions.

How stakeholders can contribute

A biosecurity liaison officer will keep the strawberry industry informed about the risk analysis and is available to respond to questions from the industry via the contact details below. The department invites relevant scientific information to this risk analysis from stakeholders at any time.

Stakeholders will be invited to comment on the draft report during the 60 calendar day consultation period in early 2018. The final report will then be published after consideration of stakeholder comments and will complete the scientific risk analysis process. Stakeholders interested in receiving further updates are invited to subscribe to our stakeholder register via the department’s website at Register as a Stakeholder.

A diagram displaying the risk analysis process for a review of biosecurity import requirements of fresh strawberry fruit from Japan.​​​​