Some eight years ago, Australian citrus growers were abandoning fruit worth millions of dollars due to a strong Australian dollar crippling export markets. At the same time they were only getting paid 10 cents to 12c a kilogram for fruit to be sold at the supermarket when it cost them 30c/kg to produce at the farm-gate.
However, today it's a different story: For the first time, orange growers are seeing record highs at the farm-gate with some fetching as much as $1.20/kg for premium fruit.
Griffith and District Growers' Association secretary, Vito Mancini, said this was due to Australian growers capitalising on China's love affair with our home-grown premium product. "We've had two decades of rubbish prices for fruit, frosts, drought, people pulling trees out and a lot of pessimism," Mr Mancini said, who owns Redbelly Citrus. "Now the industry is shining bright with China, which is acquiring our quality sweet flavorsome fruit, and we are seeing record prices particularly for higher quality fruit."
Mancini said Australia needed to continue producing a premium product as there was competition from 117 different countries who were vying for a slice of the Chinese market. He said these included countries like South Africa, Peru, Egypt and soon to be Chile once their free trade agreement was approved.