Australian melon exports stay strong as production falls

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Australian melon exports stay strong as production falls

The Australian melon sector is facing yet another year of productive decrease, according to the nation’s 2022-23 Horticulture Statistics Handbook. However, increased market value seemed to offset losses for growers.

Melon production fell to roughly 249,146 US tons in 2023, scoring a 7% drop year-on-year, the report stated. Similarly, 2022 saw an 8% decrease in production.

Of total production, around 14,119 tons went into the export market, representing a 6% share.

With lower supplies, prices increased. Last year, total value rose to approximately USD$163 million (AUD$248 million). 

The wholesale value of the fresh supply was USD$173 million (AUD $263 million), with an 82% share distributed into retail and 18% going into food service.

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There are approximately 200 melon growers in Australia, producing an average of 220,462 tons yearly, according to the Australian Melon Association.

Rockmelons, honeydew melons and watermelons are the most grown varieties, with a productive area of 20,756 acres across all states of the mainland.

Queensland, the Northern Territory, Western Australia and New South Wales are the major producers. Victoria and South Australia grow lower but still significant volumes. 

With year-round production, muskmelons saw healthy movement in the domestic market during 2023. This denomination includes the rockmelon and honeydew varieties.

The crop’s value is estimated at USD$59 million (AUD$90 million). Per capita consumption hit 4 pounds, with 34% of households including the fruit in their shopping trips.

Rockmelons, a round melon with netted grayish-green skin and an orange flesh, made up 85% of fresh muskmelon production. Honeydew, with light green flesh, accounted for 14%.

Meanwhile, in international markets, Australian watermelon exports saw a 27% jump in value, reaching USD$5.7 million (AUD $8.8 million).

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) was the largest importer, taking 5%, followed by New Zealand, Qatar, Japan and New Caledonia.

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