Continued dry conditions provided a variable production result for horticultural industries in 2018-19 impacting the yield and quality of some cropsal. However, citrus and tree nuts continued to benefit from strong exports markets particularly to Asian countries such as China and Japan. The largely domestic focused nursery industry continued its growth.
The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in short term shocks to critical supply chains within horticultural industries with interruptions to export logistics and threats to the availability of critical seasonal workers.
Fundamental drivers of demand for varied and quality horticultural produce remain linked to rising incomes of consumers including those in key Asian countries. Longer term impacts from the pandemic on economies and consumer incomes are a risk to demand, especially for high quality export produce.
DPI published the first edition Primefacts Best practice bee management Primefacts in April 2020.
This guide provides information to assist macadamia growers and beekeepers to ensure best practice management, covering topics on communications, hive placement, bee care and spray management.
Macadamia growers are reminded to always warn nearby beekeepers by providing two days’ notice before spraying, as a matter of courtesy, so that the necessary steps can be taken to protect the bees.
Citrus growers now have information to boost orchard productivity, with the release of a series of first edition Primefacts developed by the DPI.
DPI has the largest citrus research and extension team in Australia and plays a leading role in supporting the NSW and Australian citrus industry through research, extension and resource delivery.
The Primefacts aim to assist citrus growers to improve production and profitability across a range of varieties.
Horticulture output in 2019-20 equated to $1,930 million, a 1% decrease year-on-year. This followed on from 2018-19, where the area dedicated to production increased 6% year-on-year to 101,808 hectares 24,25.
Difficult growing conditions for much of 2019-20 continued from the previous year with high temperatures and record low rainfall resulting in low soil water and limited availability of irrigation for many horticultural crops. High temperatures impacted horticultural crops differently, with fruit set in pome fruit for example reduced during the year due to the stress on trees 96. The later part of 2019-20 experienced increased rainfalls across many regions in NSW.
Dry conditions across most growing regions of eastern Australia resulted in moderately higher prices for fruit and vegetables. The Sydney consumer price indices for fruit and vegetables increased by an average rate of 4% each in 2018-19 and 3% and 3.5% respectively in 2019-20. This was consistent with the increase in the national consumer price indices for fruit of 5% and vegetables 4% over the 2018-19 year and then 2% and 4% in 2019-20 for fruit and vegetables respectively 22.
Exports of horticultural products in 2019-20 were similar with the previous year in value terms at $461.7 million, while the volume of exported product decreased 2% from 2018-19. This compared with an average annual growth rate in the value of exports of 24% over the previous 3 years to 2018-19. Total horticultural exports to China grew 26% in value to $128.3 million in 2019-20, exports to Japan decreased 11% to $50.6 million and the Vietnamese market saw 24% growth to $28.8 million. These three countries accounted for 45% of the total value of horticultural exports in 2019-20 94.
Nut production totaled 43,088 tonnesaj in 2018–19, up 46% year-on-year and contributed $231 million to gross value production. Almond production was responsible for the substantial year-on-year increase in production for NSW in 2018-19 producing 24,960 tonnes, up 169% year-on-year, as the previously expanded tree plantings come into bearing age. Dry conditions impacted macadamia production with yield decreasing 15% year-on-year to 6,512 tonnes in 2018-19 however, strong demand supported prices for macadamias. Walnuts were the third largest tree nut crop in NSW with 7,995 tones (in-shell) in 2018/19. NSW produced 24% of the national almond crop and 46% of national macadamia production in 2018-19 by volume 95.
Nut exports were valued at $234.9 million in 2019-20 representing a 3% decrease year-on-year 94. Growing demand continued for tree nuts with Australia having a competitive advantage in producing nuts for export markets including the capacity to provide a supply of quality fresh nuts into the northern hemisphere’s off-season 34. Macadamias were the most valuable exported nut totaling $190.9 million in 2019-20 94.
Prices for macadamias increased over the longer term with the in-shell average price increasing from $1.90/kg in 2008/09 to $5.83/kg in 2019-20, at the same time the total number of trees increased 8% over the period to 2,481,417 trees 24,33. China, Japan, Vietnam and Belgium were the largest export destinations for macadamias with total exports valued at $140.4 million in 2019-20, with China, Belgium and United States markets more than doubling in export value terms over the prior three years 94.
Fruit production increased in 2018-19 to total 444,074 tonnes, an increase of 2% year-on-year. Contributing to this total included production increases in mandarins, avocados and olives in 2018-19 compared to the prior year, while production of apples, grapefruit and prunes showed decreases. Orange production, representing the largest segment of the fruit industries, was 269,090 tonnes for 2018-19, an increase of less than 1% increase year-on-year 95. Despite the modest increase in production the value of oranges increased substantially in gross value terms by 39% to $198.8 million in 2018-19, reflecting the increased demand for the product 25.
Exports of fruit totaled $106.5 million in 2019-20, 1% higher year-on-year. Major export markets for fruit include China, Hong Kong and Singapore accounting for 27%, 12%, and 11% respectively of total exports by value 94. In the case of oranges, as a high cost producer, the competitiveness of exports depends on maintaining the quality and safety of the fruit to achieve premium prices and by providing fresh oranges counter-seasonally into north-Asian markets 49,99. China, Japan and Hong Kong were the most valuable export markets for NSW produced oranges 94.
Production of vegetables in 2018-19 was valued at $494.6 million a 1.0% decrease year-on-year. This was attributed in part to a 1% decrease in production to 322,508 tonnes 25,95. Dry conditions and associated water limitations for irrigation capped production of a number of these crops.
From over 30 types of vegetables in NSW 95 melon production rebounded by 29% in 2018-19 following a sharp decline in demand for melons in 2017-18, a result of a listeria outbreak in rock melons 17. The gross value of melons increased 35% year-on year to $63.1million in 2018-19 25 with a total production of 79,360 tonnes, including 19,610 tonnes of rock melons and 59,750 tonnes of watermelons 95.
NSW vegetable exports continue to grow both in volume and value off the back of continued demand from high-value Asian markets. The value of exports finished 2019-20 at $32.8 million, up 28% year-on-year 94 with 608 million tonnes or vegetables exported. Potatoes remained a principal export crop with exports valued at $6.9 million in 2019-20.
Singapore retained its spot in leading the market by value with high intakes of fresh cabbages and lettuce, fresh tomatoes and potatoes 94. Malaysia and Hong Kong were also standout export markets, increasing in value by 82% and 30% respectively, off the back of significant increases in the value of fresh and chilled vegetables, including cabbages, carrots and potatoes 94.
Nurseries producing plants and planting materials for landscaping and ornamental purposes, as well as stock for other horticultural industries such as fruit and vegetables growers, continued to attract investment. The area committed to nurseries in 2018-19 increased 17% to 1,137 ha on the year prior 24. Similarly, the value of production for 2018-19 was $332.8 million an increase of 18% year-on-year 25. Industry surveys of growers continued to highlight confidence in the industry with expectations for continued investment 88.
Production of cut flowers occurs predominantly in the Central Coast and Northern Rivers regions of the NSW 95. The value of production in 2018-19 remained flat year-on-year with a total value of $63.6 million 25. With the total area under flower production declining 3% over the prior year to 1,551 hectares, of which outdoor production decreased 4% year-on-year to 1,441 hectares in 2018-19 24. Increased purchasing of flowers through large supermarket chains and convenience stores in recent years has resulted in lower farmgate prices with purchases based on price rather than quality 100. Imports of cut flowers were valued at $27.4 million in 2019-20 a 5% decrease year-on-year. In contrast exports, predominantly to Japan, were very minor with a total of $0.1 million in 2019-20 94.
Turf production in NSW was up 9% year-on-year, with the area growing turf declining marginally to 2,339 ha in 2018-19 24,95. The value of turf produced in 2018-19 was unchanged at $126.9 million 25. The drought conditions over the last two years in NSW have constrained demand for turf where urban water restrictions prevented irrigation of turf. Further, ongoing water-saving habits developed by the public developed during water restriction periods also have had an ongoing impact on demand. Other drivers of demand for turf include the number of new residential buildings and consumer attitudes towards alternate ground covers for residential properties such as artificial turf 102.
Several dominant demand drivers influence the outlook for horticulture in the long term, while short term potential risks remain for supply. Following an extended drought, water availability for irrigation remains a risk to planning and consistent production within the horticultural sector. Recently COVID-19 has created shocks in the supply chain causing a threat to the availbility of seasonal labour supply for many horticultural industries, as well as causing disruptions to freight channels for export product.
Longer term, growth opportunities for horticultural industries remain with increasing demand for fresh and varied food options, made possible by increasing incomes, especially amongst Asian consumers. This will support the demand for a variety of fresh, quality produce from Australia. With the competitiveness of Australian horticultural exports enhanced by improving market access through tariff reductions and less restrictive export protocols 6,99. Importantly, any longer-term impacts from COVID-19 on consumer incomes, both domestically or amongst key export countries especially in Asia, is a risk to demand for Australia’s traditionally high quality and high value produce.