Exports of Australian oranges in 2012-13 jumped to their highest in nearly a decade, a total of 133,373 tonnes, thanks largely to a surge in sales to Hong Kong, Japan, China and elsewhere in Asia.
Another strong export performance this financial year (including higher export prices), combined with a more stable domestic market, is welcome news for an industry that in recent seasons has battled drought, low prices for its fruit and high production costs.
Industry figures for the 2012-13 financial year show that exports to Hong Kong jumped 52.6 per cent to 31,505 tonnes, and exports to Japan jumped 22.4 per cent to 30,745 tonnes. But it is the emergence of a direct export route to China that perhaps most excites Australian citrus growers. In 2012-13 China bought about 3500 tonnes of Australian oranges, a 1100 per cent jump on the previous year.
Exports to China also pay well. The most recent figure available, from April to November 2013, shows that the average price per kilogram for exports to China was $1.42. The average price per kilogram across all export markets in this period was $1.06.
A Sunraysia citrus grower, Richard Byllaardt, the managing director and part-owner of the Seven Fields citrus company, said export markets were crucial. ”If we didn’t have an export market there’d be no money in growing citrus in Australia,” he said. ”There’d be a huge over-supply in the Australian domestic market.”
Fruit grown in Seven Fields’ orchards was in 2013 exported to Japan, China, New Zealand, US, Canada, Britain and other EU nations. ”With our navel oranges, 90 per cent of them would be exported,” Mr Byllaardt said. ”And mandarins would be up towards 50 per cent.”