Biteriot’s busted business model: export cherry sales down 75%

Pandemic Farming: Apples And Oranges
Fiona Hall, Biteriot, Caernarvon Cherry – pays staff $70 per day and then complains that she can’t find workers?

Alleged Nuffield Scholar, Fiona Hall of Caernarvon / Biteriot has admitted that her export sales to the number 1 market in the world China, were down 75%.

Recently, Fiona gave an interview whereby she said:

“We only did a quarter of what we did [last year],” she said.

The entire article, published in the Central Western Daily can be viewed – click here.

A number of aspects of the article warrant fact checking:

  • Alleged fact:  Mainland Australia is well placed to supply cherries to China 

False – As per the following industry press articles, Southern Hemisphere cherry producer (Chile – with its ideal desert climate, low or no rainfall, low cost of production and favourable market access – they are not in a trade war with China) produces over 300,000 tonnes of fresh cherries per annum whilst mainland Australia produces around 15,000 tonnes in the same growing season.  Chile ship, as the industry press articles attached report, cherries by sea that by 12 December 2020 had already landed in China >1000 x 40’ sea containers. In contrast, Orange NSW loaded zero sea shipments this year, nor last year nor indeed ever.  Orange has not loaded even 1 sea shipment in the past 5 years. 

Recent industry press articles (confirming that Chile raised sales by 38% whilst Fiona and Biteriot export sales fell by 75% include:

  1. 30/12/2020 – Amidst Record Chilean Cherry Season, China Arrivals to Peak in Jan. | Produce Report
  2. 16/12/2020 – First Sea Shipment of Chilean Cherries Arrives in China | Produce Report
  3. 1/12/2020 – Chilean Cherry Shipment Prices Settling After Record Highs | Produce Report
  4. 2/11/2020 – Season’s First Batch of Chilean Cherries Arrives in Shanghai | Produce Report
  5. 9/9/2020 – Air Freight Cost for Australian Cherries Doubles, Even With Subsidies | Produce Report
  6. 9/3/2020 – China’s Fruit Import:Export Statistics for First Half of 2020 Released | Produce Report
  7. 6/1/2021 – Challenging Orange cherry season ends after export, staff and rain issues | Central Western Daily |
  • Alleged fact:  Orange NSW/Cabonne is a good place to grow cherries 

False – the rainfall is way too high to reliably grow (quality or competitive) cherries on the tablelands of NSW.  Alternatively the high desert production areas of Chile, with irrigation water supplied by extensive snow melt rivers receive around 6 inches of rain p/a, with no damaging rains during the growing season.  The elevated areas of the Canobolas growing area west of Orange NSW in Cabonne receives almost 7x more rain than Chile making cherry growing west of Orange NSW a high risk proposition, with profits likely perhaps once every 3 or 4 years? 

  • Alleged fact:  Obtaining labour to harvest cherries is difficult 

True – it is not viable to harvest cherries in Australia if Australian cherry pickers earn $25 per hour when Chilean producers pay under $9 per hour for harvest labour.

NB: We do not admit that Biteriot pays its staff $25 per hour. On the contrary, we are promoted a wage theft class action for underpaid Biteriot / Caernarvon & Bonny Glen workers. In a recent interview Fiona Hall admitted fruit pickers were only paid about $70 per dayclick link here and skip to 15 mins & 15 seconds

Fiona Hall, Biteriot, Caernarvon Cherry

It is not believed that Growers benefitted from the cut priced $70 per day wage rates, accordingly we are promoting a growers class action for ripped off growers / suppliers to Caernarvon Cherry & Biteriot.

We do not submit that ALL cherry farms are unviable, just the business model being employed by Topfruit China Australia and BiteriotTopfruit China Australia is owned by unknown foreign investors fronted by Guohao Chen (sometimes known as Vincent Guohao Chen) the heir to a toilet bowl empire in Guangzhou China.

We note that other growers (Thornbrook Orchard) in the CWD article report having had a “good season” under the you-pick model not favoured absentee Chinese neighbours.

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