Asia drives export expansion for Australian citrus

Market Outlook Forum shines light on sector’s growth, which shows no signs of slowing down

The role Asian markets are playing in Australia’s booming citrus export trade was not understated at Citrus Australia’s Market Outlook Forum in Sydney last week.

Addressing more than 180 delegates at the event, Citrus Australia’s CEO Nathan Hancock said 91 per cent of Australian citrus exports were traded to 14 countries in 2017, of which 12 were in Asia.

Hancock noted that events like the forum help delegates understand what consumers in key Asian markets want – both in terms of product and how they prefer to buy it. He said it was also imperative that the industry continued to campaign for the reduction of trade barriers in these lucrative markets.

Elsewhere, IP Australia’s counsellor to China, David Bennett, assured delegates that the Chinese intellectual property system was stronger than some had been led to believe. He urged businesses to register trademarks early.

Keith Sunderlal of SCS Group gave an overview of the Indian market and the potential to export premium fruit there, while David Hughes, a professor at Imperial College London, said citrus could increase its market share globally by offering smaller quantities that appeal to smaller households and increasingly time-poor consumers.

In closing the two-day forum, Citrus Australia’s new chairman, Ben Cant, said strong biosecurity and food safety regimes would ensure Australia continued to grow its export programmes.

“Retail is changing rapidly, digital is having more and more impact on consumers, we need to evolve, adapt, survive and then thrive in this landscape,” he said.

The event also recognised innovation within the industry, particularly where varietal development and marketing are concerned. Craig and Bindi Pressler of 2PH, Helen Aggeletos and Maria Costi from Venus Citrus, and Frank Mercuri and his team at Pacific Fresh were all presented with Citrus Australia Supply Chain Innovation Awards.

Hancock said the sense of optimism that exists within the industry was evident throughout the event.

“The Australian horticulture industry exceeded A$1bn in exports in 2017, which was the first time we’ve achieved that in a calendar year. The citrus industry contributed 42 per cent of those exports, which is a remarkable figure.”


Author: Matthew Jones