Rising affluence in Asia leading to demand for quality Australian vegetables

Vegetable exports to South Korea and China have doubled in past five years to $9 million and $2 million respectively, reinforcing the growth opportunities available for Australian vegetables in the Asia region.

“Global population growth and a more affluent middle class in Asia are the primary forces driving demand for vegetables,” said Andrew White, AUSVEG Manager of Industry Development and Communications.

“There are predictions that higher income consumers in Asia will spend up to five times more on high quality food products compared to lower income brackets, which underpins the growth opportunities available for the Australian vegetable industry,” said Mr White.

Modelling undertaken for the vegetable industry as part of the industry’s Strategic Investment Plan suggests that exporting offers the greatest potential returns on research and development investment.

“Expanding international exports is likely to underpin the growth of the vegetable industry in the next 10 years.  Only 4% of vegetable growers currently sell vegetables for export, so the potential for expansion is very high,” said Mr White.

“The industry is currently conducting research to get growers ‘export ready’, providing them with an appreciation of the opportunities and an understanding of the viability of various export markets. Developing growers’ capacity to establish their products and grow in these markets over time is imperative,” said Mr White.

Vegetable exports have remained steady overall in the last seven years despite a high Australian dollar, but the industry believes there is significant untapped potential, particularly in Asia.

“The Australian dollar may have muted the strength of Australian vegetable exports in recent years, but now the dollar has fallen and exporting to international markets is more viable,” Mr White said.

“Australia’s location relative to south-east Asia gives Australian growers a geographical edge in terms of shipping costs and delivery times. For example, within the last five years vegetable exports to Indonesia have risen from $6 million to $11 million, and to Papua New Guinea from $3 million to $7 million,” said Mr White.

“We are confident that strong economic growth in developing countries is likely to spur demand for vegetables. Developing countries are growing at more than 5% per year while East Asian countries are growing at 7%.  The Australian vegetable industry has a great opportunity to ride the wave of growth by providing safe, high quality products,” said Mr White.

The research project has been funded through HAL using the National Vegetable Levy and matched funds from the Australian Government.

AUSVEG is Australia’s leading horticulture body representing 9,000 vegetable and potato growers.

11 September 2013


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