Australian table grape production and exports are both expected to increase significantly this season, according to a USDA report.
It forecasts production to rise by 14% to 240,000 metric tons (MT) and exports to rise by 20% to 175,000MT.
"This higher production is due to increased vine plantings coming into fruiting, with nearly all of the larger production expected to go for exports," the report said.
Good returns and strong export demand in recent years have driven new vine plantings, with an expected 20% increase annually. As these vines begin to produce this will boost production for at least the next few years.
The higher production in the 2019-20 season is expected despite continued dry conditions in much of Australia as attractive returns for horticultural crops are anticipated to help offset higher water costs.
Much of the expanded production and new vine plantings are of new table grape varieties. Victoria is the leading production region, with peak volumes coming in February and March.
Australian table grape exports to smash record
The expected uptick in exports this season comes on the back of an even larger increase last season. In 2018-19, they rose by 33% to a record 146,100MT, driven by strong demand in China and Southeast Asia.
China was the largest market, accounting for nearly 40% of the total. For China, Australia is the third-largest supplier after Chile and Peru, and larger Australian shipments have likely been a result of both rising demand and lower Chilean shipments from a smaller crop this past year.
In addition, exports to Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, and Indonesia increased a combined 50%. Collectively they accounted for around one-third of exports.