Thursday, June 20, 2024

Vegetable production falls as imports pose major threat

The gross value of the vegetable industry in Australia has declined over the past year, says peak industry body AUSVEG.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show the gross value of the vegetable industry declined by five per cent in 2014-15, with the number of vegetable-growing operations falling by 15 per cent in the same period.

“This drop in the number of vegetable growing businesses is extremely alarming and a definite danger sign for the future of the Australian vegetable industry,” AUSVEG Economist Andrew Kruup said.

There are concerns that growers face a significant competitive disadvantage through cheaper imported produce, with vegetable imports to Australia rising by seven per cent over the past year.

“We’re facing a flood of cheap imports from foreign vegetable producers that are having a detrimental impact on the Australian industry, with many growers being forced to cease operations due to an inability to compete in the domestic market,” Mr Kruup said.

AUSVEG said growth in vegetable imports could be attributed to major exporter countries including China, Italy and the US, from which a combined total of 198,255 tonnes of vegetable produce was imported into Australia in 2014-15 alone.

Mr Kruup said the competitive disadvantage confronted by Australian farmers was partly down to the cost of labour, which is higher in Australia than in other countries, representing nearly one-third of the total cost of production for the average Australian farm.

“If this trend continues, the overall viability of the Australian vegetable industry will be under serious threat,” he said.

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