Fresh fruit exports from Australia exceeded a billion dollars in 2018 for the second consecutive year, and citrus led the way. Citrus Australia chief executive officer, Nathan Hancock, has stated that the industry had made considerable advances in export markets in the past few years.
"There were 250,000 tonnes of citrus exported last year, generating $453 million in exports," he said.
Hancock said downturns in crops such as mandarins affected trade, but this decreased quantities only marginally: "Overall we were only 4.5 per cent down in volume, but we were up in value.”
With China being the main export destination, taking 45pc of the market which mostly goes to three key ports, Hancock said growth into areas of greater China and other nations such as India, Japan and Korea was key. "It's time to do some expansion, and the reason being is that we have competition breathing down our neck. We've already felt the impact of South African Valencias coming into the market, which meant we had to adjust our shipments. Even though we have a different product, it still had a disruptive effect."
The high quality of Australian citrus products gives Australia a competitive edge, and Hancock said maintaining this standard had to be a priority moving forward. Despite the successes abroad, Hancock said it was important to focus on potential risks on home soil.
Citrus canker has affected citrus growers in WA and the NT, which Hancock said was a wake-up call that exotic pests were present in the country.