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Health crisis continues for Exporters and Importers

The 2019/20 trade data for Australian fresh fruit and vegetable exports is now in; with combined fruit and vegetable exports reaching a total of 762,840 tonnes (up 4.1 per cent) valued at $1.84 billion. This result is a record breaker for the seventh consecutive year and was buoyed by strong outcomes for fruit exports at 547,137 tonnes (up 9.5 percent from 2018/19) and helped buffer a 7.4 per cent volume reduction in vegetable exports over the same time period.

Across fresh fruit, China remains the most prominent export market destination by both volume and value (156,372 tonnes; $536.5 million). However, export volume growth has eased from the substantial increases seen in previous years when strong gains in table grape and citrus exports coincided with new and/or improved market access conditions for stonefruit.

Japan has slid into the number two market for Australian fresh fruit exports by both value and volume (59,655 tonnes; $132.6 million), edging out Hong Kong which eased 4 and 4.8 per cent respectively; a reduction contributed by increased direct trade to China. Overall fruit export volumes to Japan increased by 9 per cent during 2019/20, with melon exports continuing to rise since entering the market in 2016. Singapore and Indonesia round out the top 5 markets for Australian fresh fruit exports, with Indonesia recording a 23 per cent decrease in volume driven by challenges with import licensing on table grape exports to this market.

Full year trade results for fresh vegetable exports indicate a 7.4 per cent easing in volume to 215,700 tonnes, however value remained steadier at $290 million; 3 per cent down from the previous year. Singapore remains the leading market by value (at $52.4 million), and second largest by volume after the United Arab Emirates. Of all fresh vegetable exports to Singapore, carrots accounted for around 48 per cent by volume at 13,500 tonnes and remain relatively steady compared to export volumes from previous years. Pumpkins lifted 24 per cent by volume, while broccoli exports to Singapore declined 30 per cent, mainly driven by challenging production conditions in 2019 and Covid-19 supply chain disruptions in 2020. The United Arab Emirates, Australia’s largest fresh vegetable export market by volume remained relatively steady at 36,000 tonnes at $34.2 million. Onions to the UAE lifted to 3,500 tonnes, a 78 per cent increase from 2018/19, with carrots continuing to contribute more than 80 per cent of all Australian fresh vegetable exports to the UAE.

The above trade results for 2019/20 would not be complete without a brief commentary on Covid-19 impacts on fresh horticultural exports. The data outcomes reported above only partly reflect Covid-19 disruptions. Various commodity groups are affected differently, and impacts shift as the landscape changes and seasons progress. As commented on previously, and to restate what is well known within industry, supply chain disruptions globally have created a challenging environment for fresh horticultural exporters and importers. However, a unifying shift towards coordination across horticultural industry bodies, supply chain participants, and Federal and State Governments has placed Australian exporters in good stead to optimise and expand on available opportunities to counter these ongoing challenges. The lessons and solutions we apply today will support and refine how we conduct business tomorrow, and ultimately provide a stronger and more resilient horticultural export industry in years to come.

The Australian Horticultural Exporters’ and Importers’ Association is looking forward to holding the next Industry Forum in early 2021. The Industry Forum is designed to connect members, update industry on the state of the global market and hear directly from Australian Government representatives involved in horticulture trade. Previous years have attracted leading decision-makers involved in Australia’s international fresh produce trade with vibrant discussions covering key issues facing the sector. The Industry Forum is open to members and non-members alike. More information will be provided once details are finalised.

 

Source: Brisbane Markets – October 2020

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