Spring in Tasmania has been quite reasonable according to Jim Ertler from Premium Fresh Tasmania, a major grower of vegetables in Australia. He said some of the crops are a bit more advanced than normal but nothing out of the ordinary.
“We are starting to irrigate as it is a little bit drier, but we are not short of water, so it is not a problem.”
Premium Fresh’s main crops are carrots, onions, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, swedes, turnips and beetroot. Spring is a slower time of the year for Tasmanian vegetable production, however Premium Fresh are still harvesting Dutch carrots (carrots with the tops on), just started asparagus and are packing shallots, onions, swedes, beetroot and turnips. The Tasmanian carrots are a few months away.
“Asparagus harvest has started on a reasonable market; we target the higher end and Japanese markets and the later market in Australia, however at this stage we're only harvesting about 20 hectares. The AUD is reasonable now which is also good.”
Jim is looking forward to a pretty normal carrot season with exports to SE Asia, Asia and the Middle East increasing as well as supplying the Australian mainland. “Our climate in Tasmania is good and ensures a good supply right through the season. Other parts of Australia are much hotter, and supply is less consistent.”
Tasmanian broccoli is becoming more established through the summer as the temperatures rise on the mainland where the drought is changing the dynamics of the market. Mainland broccoli growers are not only having to cope with the heat this year but also lack of water.
Premium Fresh provides a 12-month supply of shallots and exports to Asia are increasing each year, “I would not say it is a staple in Asia, they know the product and it is becoming more popular, but it is still considered a western product. We have increased sales there by focusing on the right markets and by using the right distributors. Jim is also seeing an increase in demand for echalions in various markets.
As everyone in the trade knows last year was an exceptional year in the onion trade after the European market saw huge drops in domestic volumes and opportunities opened for Southern Hemisphere producers to fill the gap.
This year the European production is mostly back to normal, with a few ups and downs but no major shortfalls in production.
Jim said it would be good build on the progress made last year in Europe. “We will be competing on quality and reliability, both of which have improved over the last few years. Tasmania and New Zealand are known for high quality onions. Although we want to capitalise on last year where we had the opportunity to send our product to new markets, we will focus on quality and are expecting high pack outs due to improved cultural practices.”