Vegetable exports on the rise

Vegetable export data shows strong growth

Horticulture
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Ausveg reports vegetable exports were up last year.

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STRONG international demand saw Australian vegetable exports lift by more than 15 per cent last year. 

Back home though, retailers and consumers are reporting higher prices than normal for vegetables at the store level.

The export figures, recently released by Ausveg, show fresh vegetable exports grew to $281 million in 2018 on the back of healthy growth in key export markets in Singapore (7.5pc value growth), Japan (8.7pc value growth) and Thailand (54pc value growth).

The volume of Australian fresh vegetable exports also surged ahead, which contributed to the rise in value.

The total volume of Australian fresh vegetable exports increased 15.5pc to 227,000 tonnes, with increases across most major markets, again including Singapore, Japan and Thailand.

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Carrots remained the strongest export performer in 2018 at 113,000 tonnes, increasing in value by 5.1pc to $98m .

Some other key vegetable exports included potatoes, onions, celery, broccoli and cauliflower, which all increased in value and volume in 2018.

Ausveg national manager - export development, Michael Coote, said the organisation's Vegetable Industry Export Program, in partnership with Hort Innovation, continues to support the solid growth in fresh vegetable exports.

"In 2018, the program facilitated the development of export capabilities for the industry by bringing 40 buyers into Australia to see local production, taking over 40 growers on outbound trade missions, and up-skilling another 40 growers through export readiness training," Mr Coote said. 

"The continued rise in the value of vegetable exports is particularly impressive when you consider that Australian vegetables are typically lower-priced products that are being grown in a high-cost environment, due to the rising costs of labour, electricity and water.

Unfortunately, weather extremes in several horticultural growing regions have hurt growers' productions, making it harder for them to meet market demands. - David Thomson, CEO, Growcom

"As such, even as they experience vulnerability to fluctuating exchange rates that make it harder for vegetable growers to compete in a global market, our exports continue to build.

"Despite these challenges, the industry has increased its focus on boosting the value and volume of vegetable exports, with work being undertaken by Ausveg, Hort Innovation and other groups in building the exporting capability of Australian growers and providing opportunities to build relationships with foreign buyers.

Drought in some key growing areas of the country, plus wild weather in Queensland, have been blamed for a spike in prices for vegetables in various parts of the country. 

In his weekly newspaper column, Growcom chief executive officer, David Thomson, encouraged readers to continue to buy even if prices went higher in order to support growers. 

"We remind consumers that our industry is at the mercy of a supply and demand model, which means prices for fresh produce are going to increase when crop yields are low and drop when produce is available for market," Mr Thomson wrote. 

"Unfortunately, weather extremes in several horticultural growing regions have hurt growers' productions, making it harder for them to meet market demands." 

Mr Coote said the vegetable industry was well on its way to reaching the target of $315m in fresh vegetable exports by 2020 as outlined by the industry's export strategy.

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