Innovation in horticulture key to future success

Economists and industry leaders agree—future growth in the Australian horticulture sector will depend on industry innovation. ABARES Senior Economist, Brian Moir, speaking as part of a panel discussion on horticulture innovation, said the industry would need to continue its focus on developing new products and new markets.

“To ensure the success of horticultural producers, the industry will need to continue to develop cost-saving and product enhancing measures in production and distribution,” Mr Moir said.

“Exports of fresh produce were worth around $930 million last year, 50 per cent of the total value of horticulture exports. Grapes, citrus, almonds, carrots and cherries are our major fresh horticulture exports.

“The major markets for our fresh and processed fruit, nuts and vegetables were Hong Kong, New Zealand, India and Japan.

“Last year, in light of the weaker Australian dollar, exports of processed fruit, nuts and vegetables increased by 40%, and imports show signs of stabilising. Over the next five years, horticulture production is projected to increase modestly—with most of the increase in production being absorbed by the domestic market.

“Overall, we expect the real value of horticultural exports to increase slowly, perhaps by an average of 1% a year over the next five years, to reach around $2 billion.

“Australia’s development of a market for oranges in China in the past two years is a good example of innovative marketing to target global markets with premium produce,” Mr Moir said.

The panel, chaired by David Moore from Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited, also included Andrew Harty from Citrus Australia.

According to Mr Harty, marketing will be equally important for the sector.

“Opportunities in China demand innovative online marketing, relationship building to capitalise on the recent free trade agreement, strong branding and information sharing beyond our borders,” Mr Harty said.

This analysis was part of ABARES Outlook 2015 being held in Canberra on Tuesday 3 and Wednesday 4 March. Australia’s leading forum for public and private decision-makers in agriculture—Outlook marks its 45th annual conference this year with expert analysis of the business of agriculture.

Posted 3 March 2015