Australian grape exports surpass half billion dollar mark for first time

August 28 , 2019

The value of Australian table grape exports has eclipsed half a billion dollars for the first time ever, reports the 2GB news station.

Australian Table Grapes Association chief executive Jeff Scott said that the total export value had surpassed AUD$555.2m.

The nation sent a little over 146,000 metric tons (MT) of the fruit overseas in the 2019 season, marking a year-on-year rise of 33%.

Scott said that growth in Japan's market has especially been incredible.

“We are now the biggest Southern Hemisphere supplier to that country,” he was quoted as saying.

“It’s quite remarkable given the fact we’re only allowed to export three varieties to Japan, so we actually exported more to Japan than say Chile did, which is our main competitor.”

The spike in exports can be attributed to new vines coming into production, as well as a very strong growing season, he explained.

In particular, favorable weather was a big factor leading to the successful grape harvest. He points to there being some hot spells in the summer, but nothing excessive.

As for the winter months, he said: “We had some very, very cold chilly nights, and it was quite dry. So that brings out the flavors, the colors and maturity in the grapes.”

Australian export growth in other Asian markets

With the peak industry body continuing its pursuit of growth, it is now completing a trade expedition through Asia.

Scott notes that China is an emerging market for the industry. And South Korea is gaining importance on Australia's radar as well.

"We went from [shipping] about 35 containers to just over 200," he elaborates.

That may be a relatively small number compared to the nation's total exports, he says. Yet South Korea usually focuses more on Chilean grape imports; thus, the Australian export growth there has been great, he adds.

Back home, he says the benefits of the increased table grape export program is paying dividends; growers are experiencing a 9.1% increase in returns, averaged at AUD$3.80 per kilogram.

Regarding how Australia can maintain its steady progression forward, he comments that hopefully the growers reinvest in their own businesses.

By doing this, he believes they can improve their farm infrastructure, which aids the production of good quality grapes.

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