(Australian Associated Press)
International markets devoured Australian onions and carrots last year, increasing demand for locally grown, fresh vegetables to $299 million.
Recent trade data shows fresh vegetable exports grew by 6.6 per cent in 2019, with potato, celery, broccoli and cauliflower all in demand.
The humble carrot had the biggest bite of the market, making up 34 per cent of fresh exports.
However, it was the slow-sprouting onion which flourished, growing in value by 67 per cent to $40 million.
Tasmanian onion growers increased their state’s portion by 97 per cent, while the shares from Western Australia and South Australia grew 67 per cent and 47 per cent respectively.
The top five vegetable consumers were Singapore, United Arab Emirates, Japan, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia, which over-took Hong Kong.
AUSVEG’s national manager for export development, Michael Coote, said the continual industry growth was impressive considering Australia’s fresh vegetables were costly to grow but relatively cheap to buy.
Rising costs of labour, electricity and water had the biggest impact on margins, while fluctuating exchange rates made it harder for vegetable growers to compete in a global market, Mr Coote said.
Recent bushfires have impacted domestic supply but the cost, if any, to fresh food exports has yet to be determined.
Despite those hurdles the industry is “well on its way” to reach the ambitious target of $315 million fresh vegetable exports by 2020″, Mr Coote added.
AUSVEG put the nation-wide growth down to strong demand from European markets.
A joint-program with not-for-profit researcher Hort Innovation has helped train 80 growers to preparing for export while another 40 accompanied on trade missions to meet potential buyers.