Australia’s almond industry is booming as Asian demand for nuts soars.
The estimated Australian almond harvest grew by 28,000 tonnes this year, up to 78,000 from 50,000 in 2012.
According to the Almond Board of Australia, these developments will see overall export tonnage double this year.
Alongside the sharp rise in growth and demand, global almond prices have risen significantly, with the Victorian (VIC) farmgate almond value to A$350m (US$328.1).
A concerted campaign on the health benefits of nuts has seen domestic consumption grow 20 per cent from 2012 to 2013, while global almond consumption has seen a phenomenal 5 to 8 per cent growth every year for the past decade.
Integrated almond producer Select Harvests announced last month that it expected sales growth of A$1m (US$0.94m), while the Gourmet Nut Company anticipated A$1.5m (U$1.4m).
Meanwhile, Australia’s Almond Board is planning to establish a A$10m (US$9.4m) research centre in Riverland, South Australia (SA) or Sunraysia, northwest VIC.
The ‘Almond Centre of Excellence’ would be dedicated to finding ways to boost almond yields.
Chief executive Ross Skinner has said the board is working on a business case to submit to the governments of SA and VIC.
"The centre would provide a home for the research of Australian production systems and from that we'd see the benefits flowing by having the ability to bring out US researchers to do sabbaticals plus also provide a first class facility for domestic researchers," Skinner told the ABC.
Skinner added that the almond industry’s research programme has experienced fast growth over the past few years as a result of increased levies from growers.
"This year there will be $1.8 million dollars worth of levy revenue raised, and that's matched by the Commonwealth,” he said to the ABC. "It does provide significant funding to be able to have an extensive research programme."