Tasmanian cherry producers Reid Fruits have advised customers how to identify its packaging in a bid to combat counterfeiting in Hong Kong and China.
In a Facebook post late last month, the premium cherry grower listed three signatures to tell the real deal from the fakes.
Cherries labelled fraudulently as Reid Fruits products have appeared for sale in Hong Kong and China weeks before the growers have harvested their fruit, marketing and business development manager Lucy Gregg said.
“We try and stamp out the counterfeiters,” she said.
Intricate laser-cut gold stickers labelled ‘1st Reid Fruits’, interior plastic cherry liners emblazoned with a gold Reid Fruits logo, and unique, single-use QR codes verifying carton authenticity will show Chinese customers if they have the genuine product.
“That’s the sophistication now,” Ms Gregg said.
Reid Fruits is also using Chinese social media platform WeChat to warn customers of fakes on the market.
While the business prided itself on food safety and quality assurance, the counterfeits risked damaging its brand reputation in China and Hong Kong, Ms Gregg said.
The cherry growers were among many Australian producers to benefit from tariff cuts taking place in the new year under free trade agreements with China and Korea.
Reid Fruits, which counts the countries as their largest foreign markets, has grown exports 300 per cent in the last three years due to access to Asian markets and free trade deals.
Cherries enter these markets above other fruits, and Tasmanian producers have access above mainland growers due to biosecurity in some cases. About 80 per cent of Reid Fruits’ crop was exported last year.
“Increasing market access will only open up more opportunities for Tasmanian producers,” Ms Gregg said.
“We’re certainly seeing the benefits of all the free trade agreements we’ve seen in recent years.”
Demand for cherries was high, bumped up by an early lunar new year for Asian countries.
“Being an early producer, our harvest will align very nicely with the lunar new year.”
Fruits Growers Tasmania business development manager Phil Pyke said the outlook was positive for fruit sector exports despite a wet spring.