New data suggests Australian potato imports have increased over 2016, sparking concerns about the profitability and competitiveness of the domestic industry over the coming months.
Figures released by Global Trade Atlas for the first quarter of 2016 indicate imports rose by 23 per cent in comparison to the same time last year across a range of potato product categories.
“The data shows a 37 per cent growth in frozen prepared potato imports compared to the first quarter of 2015, as well as a 21 per cent growth in non-frozen prepared potatoes,” said Shaun Lindhe, spokesperson for vegetable grower representative body Ausveg.
“These statistics are extremely concerning as Australian potato growers will be competing against cheaper imported produce in the foreseeable future. This competitive disadvantage is compounded by Australia’s higher costs of production compared to most overseas countries, including significantly higher labour costs. “
Ausveg claims Australian potato exports have also experienced a 6 per cent decline in comparison to the first quarter of 2015, which equates to approximately A$290,000 in lost sales. According to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, potato exports are likely to remain at similar levels in the medium-term.