Australian fresh produce industries collaborate on export development project

Australian onion harvest credit Onions Australia

Image: Onions Australia

Australia’s melon, onion and vegetable growers have joined forces to launch a A$13.7m (US$9.3m) export development programme through Hort Innovation.

The five-year initiative will build the industries’ export capability and support their sustainability over time. It will be delivered through Hort Innovation using industry levies and funds from the Australian government, and led by vegetable representative body, Ausveg, with support from Onions Australia and Melons Australia.

Hort Innovation head of trade, Brei Montgomery, said now is the ideal time to launch the effort with various factors informing the approach.

“Now is the ideal time for this programme when you look at current movements within our trade markets,” Montgomery said.

“Covid has presented challenges, but it has also resulted in new ways to engage stakeholders; the strengthening of relationships to eager markets and a desire for businesses to diversify to cater to this demand.”

Montgomery said the multi-industry export programme is a first for the horticulture industry and will see a collaborative approach for growers in the vegetable, onion and melon industries. 

“For the onion, vegetable and melon industries, working together makes sense. They all share similar objectives to strengthen their overseas trade positions through a strategic, collaborative approach,” Montgomery noted.

“Australia has a reputation for delivering quality produce that has adhered to the most stringent standards across all supply chain stages. This programme will leverage and build on that great reputation.”

Underpinning the multi-industry export programme are various export capability and market development activities delivered by Ausveg through Hort Innovation.

The new programme includes the provision of sophisticated market intelligence data and insights for growers in addition to tailored advice on value-adding for export and a comprehensive programme that provides growers with opportunities to re-engage with export markets and networks.

Ausveg chief executive Michael Coote said the programme focuses on building grower export capability and capacity, collating international market information for decision-making and giving vegetable, onion and melon growers the ability to participate in the highly successful Ausveg market development programme.


“The Australian vegetable industry has invested significantly in export development to help growers successfully export fresh Australian vegetables over the past decade, and as a result has built solid relationships and industry know-how that will benefit vegetable growers, as well as those in the onion and melon industry, which face similar issues with exporting as many vegetable growers,” Coote said.

 Melons Australia chief executive Johnathon Davey said that there were plenty of synergies in the export development work that Ausveg undertakes for the vegetable industry and the outcomes that the melon industry has identified as priorities in building its capabilities in export.

“The melon industry has identified growing export markets as a key priority for the industry moving forward, and it makes sense for our industry to work with Ausveg in this project,” said Davey.

Onions Australia executive committee member and exporter Tim Groom said the multi-industry export programme will support a strong history of successful trade and relationship building.

“The Australian onion industry is the second largest vegetable crop exported in Australia with a significant portion of mature growers who have a strong export focus. What this programme will do is underpin decades of hard work by the industry and offer new insights and approaches that build on our success,” said Groom.

“Onions Australia has been working for several years now to increase our focus on strong export programmes and is looking forward to supporting our growers to access this new programme.”