Representatives from the cider industry say they’re concerned about the potential health risks the product may pose to consumers and the damage the product will do to the local industry.
Local Growers Fear Imported Concentrate
Local fruit growers must adhere to strict health and safety regulations to ensure their products are fit for consumptions. However, the standards of imported fruit are much more relaxed. There’s currently no way of knowing what’s happened to fruit grown overseas before it’s concentrated and sent to Australia.
“The fruit coming in from China, this concentrate, that could be sprayed with anything at all. Human waste put onto it, you really don’t know what’s ending up in that final product. It’s sort of like playing Russian roulette really,” Mario Carsotti, a Western Australian apple grower, told ABC Rural.
Change in Import Regulations
Carsotti said tighter government regulations would protect local growers and consumers. This protection is so important for orchardists, as the cider and juice markets allow them to use the glut of imperfect fruit that does not reach supermarket shelves.
“The major [supermarket] chains have raised their bar with regards to what they will accept on quality with first-grade fruit,” he explained. “That puts more fruit into the juice-grade line of fruit. There’s too much for the factories to handle the amount of imported juice coming into the country.”
Boutique cider brewer Mark Hollet, an industry veteran with more than a decade’s experience, believes ciders made with cheaply imported concentrate compromise on safety and quality.
“I would be disappointed to see ciders being produced with concentrate, because it’s a little like short-cutting the process [and] trying to produce something as cheap as possible,” he explained. “If the apples are coming from overseas originally, then we don’t really know what the processes of the orchard have been in regards to spraying and other things, so you just have to hope that the fruit is of a high-quality when they juice it.”
Government officials are yet to comment on the orchardists requests for tighter industry control.