‘Ideal timing’ sparks $13.7M vegetable, onions and melon trade effort

THE NATION’S melon, onions and vegetable growers have joined forces to develop a $13.7M export development program through Hort Innovation in a time of rising trade capacity within the industries and strong Australian produce demand.

Being delivered through Hort Innovation using industry levies and funds from the Australian Government, and led by vegetable representative body, AUSVEG, with support from Onions Australia and Melons Australia, the 5-year initiative will build the industries’ export capability and support their sustainability over time.

Hort Innovation head of trade, Brei Montgomery, said now is the ideal time to launch the effort with various factors informing the approach.

“Now is the ideal time for this program when you look at current movements within our trade markets,” she said. “Covid has presented challenges, but it has also resulted in new ways to engage stakeholders; the strengthening of relationships to eager markets and a desire for businesses to diversify to cater to this demand.”

Ms Montgomery said the multi-industry export program is a first for the horticulture industry and will see a collaborative approach for growers in the vegetable, onion and melon industries.

“For the onion, vegetable and melon industries, working together makes sense,” she said. “They all share similar objectives to strengthen their overseas trade positions through a strategic, collaborative approach,” she said.

“Australia has a reputation for delivering quality produce that has adhered to the most stringent standards across all supply chain stages. This program will leverage and build on that great reputation.”

Underpinning the Multi-Industry Export Program is various export capability and market development activities delivered by AUSVEG through Hort Innovation. The new program includes the provision of sophisticated market intelligence data and insights for growers. On top of that, tailored advice on value-adding for export and a comprehensive program will provide growers with opportunities to re-engage with export markets and networks.

AUSVEG CEO Michael Coote said the program focuses on building grower export capability and capacity, collating international market information for decision-making and giving vegetable, onion and melon growers the ability to participate in the highly successful AUSVEG market development program. He said business development functions to uplift the ability of exporting growers to service a wider range of markets and channels and expand international trade opportunities in the future would also be priorities.

“The Australian vegetable industry has invested significantly in export development to help growers successfully export fresh Australian vegetables over the past decade, and as a result has built solid relationships and industry know-how that will benefit vegetable growers, as well as those in the onion and melon industry, which face similar issues with exporting as many vegetable growers,” Mr Coote said.

Melons Australia CEO Johnathon Davey said that there were plenty of synergies in the export development work that AUSVEG undertakes for the vegetable industry and the outcomes that the melon industry has identified as priorities in building its capabilities in export.

“The melon industry has identified growing export markets as a key priority for the industry moving forward, and it makes sense for our industry to work with AUSVEG in this project,” said Mr Davey.

“I look forward to working with AUSVEG, Hort Innovation and the broader melon industries to increase the capabilities of melon growers to service new and existing international markets.”

Onions Australia Executive Committee member and exporter Tim Groom said the multi-industry export program will support a strong history of successful trade and relationship building. “The Australian onion industry is the second largest vegetable crop exported in Australia with a significant portion of mature growers who have a strong export focus,” he said. “What this program will do is underpin decades of hard work by the industry and offer new insights and approaches that build on our success. “Onions Australia has been working for several years now to increase our focus on strong export programs and is looking forward to supporting our growers to access this new program.”

QUICK FACTS (Source: Australian Horticulture Statistics Handbook):

– The Australian vegetable industry is one of Australia’s largest horticultural industries. In 20-21, 215,374 tonnes of fresh vegetables were exported at a value of $264m. Most Australian fresh vegetable trade is exported to open, non-protocol markets such as Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia.

– For the year ending June 2021, Australia exported 49,429 tonnes of fresh onions and 82 tonnes of dried onions. Fresh onion trade is largely exported to non-protocol markets such as Europe (the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany), Thailand, Taiwan, Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, and Japan.

– The Australian melon industry exported 12,890 tonnes of fruit in 20-21 with a value of $26.5 million. Key markets are the United Arab Emirates, Japan, Singapore and Qatar.

Hort Innovation is the not-for-profit, grower-owned Research and Development Corporation (RDC) for Australian horticulture. Each year, the RDC invests more than $120 million into research, development, marketing and trade activities using levies. funds from the Australian Government and other sources.

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