Australian fresh fruit exports have exceeded A$1bn (US$750m) for the first time in a calendar year, according to figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
In 2017 Australia exported 456,742 tonnes of fresh fruit, 7 per cent more than in 2016, and worth A$1.11bn. Of this, 38 per cent went to China and Hong Kong, where exports to China direct recorded a 57 per cent increase in volume.
Continued strong demand from Asian markets, coupled with a high yielding production season, favourable exchange rates, growth from recently gained new market access, and the impact of lower tariffs from recent free trade agreements with China and Japan has all contributed to the A$1bn result.
China was the main growth driver, with Australia capitalising on increased demand for counter seasonal fruit alongside other Southern Hemisphere suppliers including Chile, South Africa and New Zealand. China’s growth more than offset a decline in trade to Hong Kong.
Trade to Japan lifted a further 6 per cent, driven by good demand for Australian oranges, mandarins and grapes.
More trade was recorded direct to Middle East markets such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar rather than via the UAE, which influenced a lower result to the that market.
Trade to the US, once taking only citrus from Australia, increased 9 per cent thanks to a range of new products in the market such as cherries, mangoes and lychees.
Citrus and grapes accounted for 84 per cent of the total fresh fruit volume exported from Australia.