Long-term growth of Australian fruit and vegetable exports continues to rise despite pandemic challenges


Despite the obstacles and challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, Australian exporters continue to gain recognition and continued growth in the value of the fruit and vegetables they supply to the world, according to a market research firm prominent food.

Speaking at the Australian Horticulture Statistics Handbook 2020/21 launch event, Freshlogic Managing Director Martin Kneebone said Australia is a serious exporter and has earned a reputation for having a product better quality, which is reflected in the numbers.

“Even when we have a large volume in the fruit category, where prices are more volatile, we are still recognized for having a better product,” he said. “That’s the long-term position we need. But export success has usually been preceded by a need to invest in production and then manage that production. Perhaps elements of market pressure domestic predated export volumes coming in. We’ve seen that with two or three categories, and that shows really strong export development work. I think it’s been well managed in citrus, grapes and stone fruits (industries) and they’ve created a beautiful halo for other categories looking to get into those markets. But overall, a surge in production usually precedes growth in export markets, but we We handled it well.”

Last week, Hort Innovation released the previous year’s statistics handbook, which it compiled with the help of Freshlogic. Overall, the horticulture sector has grown from $15.1 billion in production value in 2019/20 to $15.2 billion despite challenging growth and market conditions. The production volume also slightly increased by 1% due to 6.63 million tons. Adam Briggs, Head of Data and Insights at Hort Innovation, explained that although there has been an understandable decline in export value and volume for the 2020-21 financial year, it is expected to rebound quickly and that will not had no impact on the long-term trend.

“The trend is clear and the trend is for growth,” Briggs said. “The total growth rate is over 11% per year, which if you ask anyone in agriculture to have double-digit compound rate growth is phenomenal and reflects the trajectory that benefits the sector.Value was a bit softer over the past twelve months, and needless to say the significant headwinds the sector has faced, with challenges such as access to freight, market pricing and even political pressures. All of this has an impact on its ability to get product to market. In saying that, these fundamentals remain strong for Australian horticulture in our export markets. We have a product that a lot of people want , and it is encouraging to see this materialize in our long-term growth figures.

As an example, he pointed to the growth of blueberries over the past nine years from $1 million to $8.4 million and while still small in terms of volumes, it illustrates the trend of most fruit and vegetable products.

“Some of the players determine a large part of the export value, for example, table grapes account for 38% of fruit exports and citrus 36%,” Mr Briggs said. “Thus, these two categories represent more than 70% of the total value of fruit exports. Similarly, the category of vegetables where carrots represent almost 40% of the value. There is a degree of concentration of more mature export-oriented industries, but the growth is experienced by these smaller industries, which are involved in their own way. »

In terms of overall production, Mr Briggs also noted that there is a concentration in value, with six product lines accounting for around 75% of the total value in the fruit category; citrus fruits, grapes, apples, berries, avocados and bananas. He says that during the review period, there were also constraints in many fruit categories in terms of volume growth, but this did not have a significant impact on value.

“The value, for the most part, has continued to rise,” he said. “This indicates that the market is willing to receive more of this product and to accept a higher price for it. Some interesting factors in the overall evolution of the value can be observed by considering, for example, the evolution of table grapes, which have seen a decline. in the amount of production volume, with nearly $200 million in reduced production and a lower value for the volume change. For table grapes, the decline in value was driven by a weaker market performance of export, and given that table grapes export far more than the majority of their harvest to those markets, that has certainly impacted their ability to hold value. It’s just another story of how in the sector fruit, it doesn’t take much for a few of the heavyweights in the category to influence the overall result. That said, fruit growth of $58 million is a fantastic result, all things considered. »

The Horticulture Statistics Handbook also revealed that there were more vegetables produced in the 2020/21 financial year than ever before. According to Briggs, the main driver was potatoes, which not only had a good year in terms of volume (5% increase), but also grew in value by around 12%.

“Other strengths from a value change perspective include carrots, which have continued to strengthen and are tied to their exports,” he said. “Leafy salads and mushrooms have seen some recovery in terms of the market. But there have been challenges with falling values ​​for some ranges, with weaker performance in broccoli, beans, onions and lettuce. But it’s important to note that we’re coming off the back of a record year the year before. Some of these categories take a bit of a breather, with some of the obvious challenges contributing to that as well. But there is more diversity in vegetables than in fruits.

The horticulture sector is also on track with its goal of reaching $20 billion in value by 2030, with current growth rates predicting that it could do so as early as 2025-26. The National Farmers Federation is aiming for a $100 billion goal for the entire agricultural sector by 2030, and horticulture is one of the fastest growing sectors.

For more information
Adam Briggs
Horticultural Innovation
Telephone: +61 2 8295 2300


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