WHILE Australian fruit and vegetable growers are eager to export their produce to help alleviate the flooded domestic market, the cost of production could impact their options.
With other countries such as Chile and Peru exporting to China at a lower price, Independent Produce Suppliers director Frank Bueti, Pooraka, says Australian growers are at a disadvantage.
“The amount of produce China imports is huge, but the options where to buy from are even bigger,” he said.
“The problem is the price – what we have to charge to pick, pack, produce and transport, compared to what China can pay for produce from another country.”
Mr Bueti has been the director for IPS for the past 27 years, supplying fruit and vegetables to independent supermarkets across SA and into Tennant Creek, NT.
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He also co-established FAB Export and for the past six years has been exporting wine and fresh food to Asia.
While there are export costs impacting Australian farmers, Mr Bueti said there were huge opportunities in China.
“Our existing growers have worked out how to get double the yield from their plants, which is fantastic,” he said.
“During the next two to three years, we are going to get a lot more (produce in the market), and we need to export.
“We have to find a way to get it over the line because we have too much and China needs it because they don’t produce enough food for their demand.”
The demand for fresh Australian produce in China was highlighted during an ANZ-organised trip in April, where a delegation of 15 horticulture producers met with Chinese supermarkets and importers.
Growers spent a week visiting distributors, retailers and e-commerce operations to develop a greater understanding of the demands and preferences for fresh foods and broader insights into a key market.
Also attending the trip was fifth generation apple grower Ashley Green, Hill View Fruits, Lenswood, who agreed export was the next step for fresh produce.
“It would open the door to a whole new market,” he said.
“It’s not going to be a miracle cure (to the flooded market) but it would give us the opportunity to, say, knock back supermarket prices because we could get more on the export market.”
He said Australian growers were facing a decline in consumption and in increase in production, which was hurting the growers’ hip pocket.
He hoped the Chinese market would approve trade agreements in 2019 for apples, which would allow access for the 2020 crop.
“China are the biggest apple growing country in the world, but they’re northern hemisphere and we’re southern, so we have that counter-cycle window,” he said. “We’ve seen what market access has done for the citrus and tablegrape industries … but we need to have more trade negotiations and deals in place.
“We’re (most likely) not going to see huge prices, but hopefully there will be a premium if we can do the marketing correctly.”
- This story first appeared on The Stock Journal.