Ausveg, the peak representative body for Australian vegetable and potato growers, says the progress its members have made in growing exports over recent years should not be overshadowed by comparisons with the value of Australian fruit exports.
Global Trade Atlas data has shown the value of Australian vegetable exports grew 2 per cent to A$252m in 2017.
Ausveg believes the industry is well placed to meet its goal of growing export revenue to A$315m by 2020.
While it might seem easy to assess the performance of vegetable exports against fruit exports, Ausveg’s national manager – export development, Michael Coote, said there were certain considerations that made this comparison problematic.
“Fruits are a higher value export group than vegetables as they are more seasonal commodities and can command higher prices from importing countries during their seasonal windows,” Coote explained.
“Vegetables, on the other hand, are a more consistent annual product group and tend to fill gaps in regions that are not so lucky to have year-round vegetable production like we do with most vegetable commodities in Australia.”
Coote said market access was another contributing factor.
“A number of different Australian fruits have had success growing their export trade into China, while Australia does not yet have access into this market for most vegetable commodities,” he explained.
“Despite these challenges, the industry has increased its focus on boosting the value and volume of its vegetable exports, with work being undertaken by Ausveg, Hort Innovation and other groups in building the exporting skills of Australian growers and providing opportunities to build relationships with foreign buyers.”
Carrots were Australia's best performing vegetable export in 2017, with shipments totalling 110,000 tonnes at a value of A$91m.
Together with onions and potatoes, carrots currently account for over 60 per cent of total Australian vegetable exports by value and over 80 per cent of vegetable exports by volume.
“The Australian vegetable industry is experiencing solid growth in its exports, particularly on the back of strong performing products such as carrots and broccoli to the Middle East and Asia,” Coote said.
“The industry is well on its way to reach the ambitious target of A$315m in fresh vegetable exports by 2020 as outlined by the industry’s export strategy. We are working with growers to ensure they have the skills and knowhow to improve their ability to export their produce and capitalise on increasing demand for fresh, Australian-grown vegetable produce.”