A new code for grading citrus fruit will guarantee that only high quality produce is sold to West Australian consumers, according to WA Fruit and Vegetable Growers' Association.
The code, Citrus Fruits Grading Code 2008, is part of the WA fruit industry's innovative ongoing promotion of quality WA products.
WA citrus dndustry development officer, Nathan Hancock, said that the WA Citrus Council would distribute an information package on the new code in February and also planned to conduct information sessions for growers, marketers and retailers.
Last year the industry introduced sizing rings to take the guess-work out of labeling fruit and bring uniformity to citrus marketing.
They were developed by WA Fruit Growers' Association's Citrus Council.
Launching the citrus grading code today at The Herdsman, WA Agriculture and Food Minister, Terry Redman, said the industry-driven code - an Australian first for citrus - would focus on grading fruit on eating quality rather than external appearance.
"Except for a few hundred tonnes of grapefruit sold to the eastern states, 100pc of citrus grown in WA is consumed in the WA market," Mr Redman said.
"Therefore, it's important to provide consumers with a good tasting product they'll be confident to purchase again.
"The code sets parameters for minimum sugar, sugar acid ratio and juice content, based on internationally recognised benchmarks.
"It's modelled on a similar code developed for table grapes in WA, which has been a successful innovation in regulation for the industry."
The code was developed by the citrus industry, assisted by the Department of Agriculture and Food WA.
"It reflects the desire by growers to increase and maintain a high standard of produce sold in the WA market place and will apply to all citrus fruit sold on the fresh market, including oranges, mandarins, grapefruit, lemons and limes, however there'll be some flexibility in the code to consider issues such as seasonal variations," Mr Redman said.
Meanwhile, WA Citrus Council also recently embarked on a new promotions campaign to increase school childrens' awareness of the benefits of locally grown citrus, including a website, www.wacitrus.com.au.
Teachers can download worksheets which incorporate maths, english, technology and a range of other subjects and it strongly promotes WA Fresh Citrus.