While Australian fruit exports have exceed $AU1billion for the first time within a calendar year, fresh vegetable exports have suffered drops in key markets of over 50%.
Wayne Prowse of Fresh Intelligence Consulting told Fresh Plaza that, between 2016 - 17, vegetable exports declined in key markets such as Indonesia, Europe and Taiwan.
"The main reasons for this decline is a drop in demand for onions from Europe, a return to normal trade to Taiwan after increased demand in 2016 due to the typhoons damaging local crops, and the swinging door of Indonesia's import conditions," said Wayne.
Although the volume of fresh vegetable exports declined 13 per cent overall the value increase 2 per cent to $AU252M as the mix changed with more higher value products being exported such as lettuce and broccoli.
Fresh vegetable exports from Australia are sent to a wide range of destinations. While Singapore and Japan had traditionally been the major destinations; four years ago the United Arab Emirates surpassed Japan to become Australia's second largest fresh vegetable export destination.
Carrots remain the largest vegetable export at $AUD94M, followed by potatoes and onions.
In contrast fresh fruit exports in 2017 were up 15% on the previous year, bringing export totals to $AUD1.1B on 456,742 tonnes.
"There are a number of factors producing this improvement, including strong ongoing Asian market demand, favourable exchange rates, improved market access through lower tariffs from free trade agreements with China and Japan."
"We know China continues to drive the most growth where Australia continues to capitalise on the increased demand for counter seasonal fruit."
"The China growth off set a decline in trade to Hong Kong although the combined result is 83 per cent more than 5 years ago with China firmly in front."
Wayne said the Japanese market was driving demand for oranges, mandarins and table grapes.
"The Japanese market improved by 19% which is impressive for a mature market."
"Citrus and grapes accounted for 84 per cent of the total fresh fruit volume exported from Australia to all destination."
However, the future still remains positive for Australia's vegetable industry, with growers and AUSVEG clearly focused on increasing the value of vegetable exports to $A315 million, or by 40 per cent, by 2020.
The Vegetable Industry Export Strategy 2020 outlines a range of methods to help more growers and the wider industry export of Australian vegetables to overseas markets.
"The Australian vegetable industry has a huge appetite for export growth and there is a lot of untapped potential there," Hort Innovation chief executive John Lloyd said at the time of the strategy launch.
"Hort Innovation is working with growers and AUSVEG to do everything it can to drive this growth and develop a financially sustainable vegetable export sector".
In comparison, the new strategy, which was launched 12 months ago outlines an industry target of 310,000 tonnes of vegetable exports by 2020
Mr Lloyd said currently, vegetables make up around five per cent of national export production.
"With all the necessary mechanisms in place, the Australian vegetable industry could increase its exports by 40 per cent within four years, and come close to doubling exports within the next decade."
Sources: ABS(2018) via ITC Trademap; Fresh Intelligence and Vegetable Industry Export Strategy 2020.
Publication date: 3/14/2018
Author: Phil Pyke