The Australian fruit growing has been experiencing hard times of late. There are a number of factors that have created an environment, which have seen many Victorian fruit farmers reverting to bulldozing surplus tress. This was a direct result of the farmers losing supply contracts to fruit processors. Local farmers are finding it increasingly difficult to compete in domestic markets.
The current domestic situation is a result of two major factors. Firstly, the high Australian dollar has worked against local farmers; this problem is being partly alleviated by the recent decline in the Australian dollar. The second reason is that local processors cannot compete against the supermarket’s overseas-sourced “private label” products.
It is now widely recognized that supermarkets have become the most powerful players in the global food trade. Supermarkets are driven by profits and increasing shareholder value, the welfare of Australian farmers is of a secondary concern.
The opportunities for Australian fruit and vegetable farmers are to seek markets overseas. Asian consumers are interested in high quality, fresh, clean, safe, value-for-money produce from overseas. Potential opportunities for Australian fresh fruit and vegetables are a plenty; the fruits most in demand are:
Australia’s total value export of fresh fruit and vegetables increased from $1.57bn in 2011 to $1.92bn in 2012. This represented a healthy 22.3% growth over the course of one year. The increase was shared between the two sectors with vegetables experiencing a 23% increase and fruit a 21% increase.Citrus products made up a large portion of fresh fruits imports in 2012, with a value of A$38 million (37.5 per cent of total export of fresh fruits) and 32,155 tons (95.4 per cent of total exports of fresh fruits) in value and volume respectively.
There is much talk of global food scarcity, and that Australia is well placed to take advantage of this by supplying high-quality food to our neighbours. Research indicates that Australian fruit farmers are far better placed when they produce multiple products and supply multiple markets away from the dominant retail supply chain.
Australia has a number of competitive advantages when exporting fresh fruit and vegetables to Asian markets:
• Australia’s diverse climate and soil varieties enable the harvesting of a wide variety of produce and production with low levels of chemical fertilisers
• Consumer awareness of Australia’s clean, green environment and low chemical usage adds to Australia’s appeal as a supplier of safe foods
• Less shipping time compared to other countries in the southern hemisphere leads to the supply of fresh products with superior quality
• Improved domestic infrastructure for delivery of imported products into Japan
• The deregulation of Japanese plant quarantine laws is easing restrictions and opening up markets for new products
Source: Are we allowing our fruit industry to wither? 28 May 2013 as published on