Cherry Quality Assurance check by Glenn Hale Ag Vic

Retail outlets included Annam Gourmet Market, Big C Supercentre, Klever Fruits, Lotte Mart, Smart Fruits, eMart and Ben Thanh Market (Figure 2). Cherry quality assessments included fruit weight; ring size and skin colour using the Australian Cherry colour & size guide; fruit firmness using an Agrosta® 100 USB; stem colour using a 4-point rating scale (where 1 = 0 to 25% brown and 4 = 75 to 100% brown); soluble solids concentration (SSC) using an Atago handheld digital refractometer (PAL-1); and overall quality based on Cherry Growers Australia (CGA) standards (Table 1). The number of cherries within each punnet and the percentage of fruit without stems were also recorded. All quality assessments were conducted within 48 hours of purchase on 16 randomly selected fruit per punnet (Figure 1). Purchase price and punnet weight were recorded for each retail outlet.

Guides from Cherry Growers Australia Inc.: Cherry Quality Guide and Cherry Quality Specifications (Note: these documents do not meet WCAG 2.0 accessibility guidelines)

Guide: Australian Cherry colour, size and quality

Figure 2. Australian grown cherries purchased from retail outlets in Saigon, Vietnam — Klever Fruits, Smart Fruits, eMart and Ben Thanh Market.

Cherries advertised at Klever Fruits store

Klever Fruits store

Outside Smarts Fruit store

Smart Fruits store

Cherries at eMart

eMART store

Cherries at Ben Than Market

Ben Thanh market

Retail cherry quality

Table 1

Download spreadsheet - Table 1. Quality assessment of Australian grown cherries purchased from retail outlets in Saigon, Vietnam.

Table 1 Download PDF - Table 1 in new window (Note: this document does not meet WCAG 2.0 accessibility guidelines)

There was a large variation in price paid between sources (Table 1). On average, the recommended retail price for cherries over the two months of December 2018 and January 2019 was approximately A$31.70 per kilogram. The two highest prices were paid at Annam Gourmet Market which is a top end grocery store. The cheapest price paid was under A$25 per kilogram at Klever Fruits with fruit gift-wrapped in a small box. Cherries were typically sold in 300 or 500 g punnets. Individual fruit weight ranged from 7.8 g at Lotte Mart to 11.4 g at Smart Fruits. Fruit size ranged from 28 mm at five establishments to 31 mm at one establishment (Smart Fruits).  Generally, cherries sold at Ben Thanh Market were amongst the largest sold in Saigon. Skin colour ranged from 4.9 (dark red) at Lotte Mart and Ben Thanh Market to 6.0 (full dark red colour) at three establishments (Klever Fruits, eMart and Ben Thanh Market). Uniformity of colour within a pack was generally very good among all punnets purchased. Fruit firmness recorded was close to the export grade of mid-60’s and ranged between 52 (domestic retail) at eMart to 81 at Ben Thanh Market (Table 1). Fruit from eMart were in poor condition, very soft and bruised. Stem colour varied greatly from a rating of 1.1 (mostly green) at Smart Fruits to 4.0 (mostly brown) at Klever Fruits. No stores sold cherries with stems that were completely green; however, Smart Fruits were the greenest. At all retailers, SSC was above the minimum required level of 15°Brix and was generally highest in fruit sold at Ben Thanh Market. The number of fruit per punnet depended on packaging size and also on cherry size. Seventy percent of all cherries assessed had stems attached. All cherries purchased from Annam Gourmet Market in the Saigon Centre had attached stems.

Pitting, both minor and major, was observed in most batches of fruit and although it doesn’t affect taste, it may deter consumers from purchasing the product. Only one small rot was observed from all cherries purchased. ‘Pebbling’ (i.e., roughness in the skin surface similar to dimples on a golf ball) was observed in cherries purchased from Lotte Mart and Klever Fruits and is an indication that it may have been stored for a long period. Pebbled fruit appeared dull, were not visually appealing and lacked flavour, but were reasonably firm and juicy. Some of the best quality cherries were purchased at Ben Thanh Market even though fresh fruit and vegetables are sold at ambient temperature.

In summary, most of the retail outlets in Saigon where Agriculture Victoria purchased Australian grown cherries met export grade quality in terms of firmness, sweetness and colour. However, the presence of brown stems and stemless cherries suggests that the export supply chain and local handling could be improved by better temperature management and shorter export duration times to help maximise cherry quality and shelf life.


Agriculture Victoria would like to thank Agriculture Policy’s – Export Development and Investment Strategy (EDIS) group for funding this project. For more information, please contact Glenn Hale on

Glenn Hale, AgriBio, Agriculture Victoria Research