Australian vegetable growers are benefiting from strong demand for locally-grown vegetables in key export markets and investment in increasing their exporting capabilities, with trade data indicating that total fresh vegetable exports have increased 11.4 per cent in value and 15.5 per cent in volume in 2018.
Australia’s fresh vegetable exports grew to AUD$281 million in 2018 on the back of strong growth in key export markets in Singapore (which grew 7.5 per cent in value to AUD$50.5 million – the first time over AUD$50 million), Japan (8.7 per cent to AUD$32 million) and Thailand (54 per cent to AUD$7.8 million).
The volume of Australian fresh vegetable exports has also seen strong growth, which has contributed to the rise in value. The total volume of Australian fresh vegetable exports increased 15.5 per cent to 227,000 tonnes, with increases across most major markets, including Singapore (11 per cent increase to 30,000 tonnes), Japan (11 per cent increase to 11,500 tonnes) and Thailand (over 100 per cent increase to 10,500 tonnes).
Carrots remained the strongest export performer in 2018 at 113,000 tonnes, increasing in value by 5.1 per cent to AUD$98 million. Some other key vegetable exports include potato, onion, celery, broccoli and cauliflower, which have all increased in value and volume in 2018.
AUSVEG National Manager – Export Development Michael Coote said the progress the Australian vegetable industry has made in growing its exports is testament to the hard work of vegetable growers to persevere with the export process, and the work done by AUSVEG and the wider industry in providing opportunities for growers to increase their capability and opportunities to enter export markets.
“The Australian vegetable industry is continuing to experience solid growth in its exports, particularly on the back of strong performing products such as carrots, potatoes and broccoli/cauliflower to different high-value Asian markets,” said Mr Coote.
“The Vegetable Industry Export Program, which is delivered by AUSVEG 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.
“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. 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.
“The industry is well on its way to reach the ambitious target of AUD$315 million in fresh vegetable exports by 2020 as outlined by the industry’s export strategy. We are working with growers to ensure they have the skills and knowhow to improve their ability to export their produce and capitalise on increasing demand for fresh, Australian-grown vegetable produce,” said Mr Coote.