Australia's hazelnut and ginger industries forecast to boom

Two of Australia’s smallest horticulture industries are about to boom. The next five years will be the biggest and best for hazelnuts and ginger, which are expected to see huge increases in production. Demand, and breakthroughs in pest and disease control, are creating fresh opportunities for the two crops.

Only 170 tonnes pf hazelnuts are harvested annually in Australia. But a recently released Agrifutures study found hazelnut production in Australia could increase 2000-3000 per cent by 2020, thanks to a household chocolate name.

Ferrero Australia, a major global processor of hazelnuts that makes popular products such as Ferrero Rocher, imports about 2000 tonnes of raw hazelnuts a year to meet local processing demands.

Yet the company says there is suitable land in Australia that could be meeting that demand. This would see the Australian hazelnut industry valued at $400 million.

Agrifutures study author Lester Snare says Ferrero is concerned about the supply of fresh hazelnut kernel and the potential impact that could have on the price of hazelnuts. “Presently, approximately 70 per cent of hazelnuts are produced in Turkey,” Snare says.

“With the aim of diversifying production regions and securing constant, reliable hazelnut supply, the Ferrero group has identified Australia as a country suitable for hazelnut production.

Australian ginger production is also expected to increase, but not as dramatically as hazelnut. Ginger is forecast to increase 50 per cent over the next five years to 12,000 tonnes by 2021.

Agrifutures’ Talia Hardaker says improved farm management, including breakthroughs in pest and disease control, would boost production.

“A combination of favourable growing conditions and improved biosecurity and management practices have increased yield and quality and placed pressure on grower returns,” Hardaker says.

“The outlook for Australian processed ginger products such as ginger beverages is positive … globally consumers are moving towards healthy eating lifestyles and ginger is well placed to capitalise on this trend.”

The Australian Ginger Industry Association, comprising the nation’s 49 growers, says it wants to increase production while sustaining profitable farmgate prices.

About 80 per cent of the ginger grown in Australia is sold on the domestic fresh ginger market, with the rest sold to the domestic ginger processing sector.

The AGIA wants to explore new markets for ginger, and says a combination of market research, brand development and promotion would be needed.

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