Significant disease of citrus trees stopped at border

Biosecurity officers recently intercepted a number of fruit items at Australia’s borders, which were found to be carrying a citrus disease.

Head of Biosecurity, Lyn O’Connell, said the items were intercepted on separate occasions and all tested positive for citrus canker pathogen.

“This is an example of the significant biosecurity risks that Australia faces and why it is so important to follow our biosecurity conditions,” O’Connell said. “Back in 2004, a citrus canker outbreak had a major impact on our million-dollar citrus industry and the disease has also caused extensive production losses in citrus industries overseas.

“These recent interceptions are particularly concerning given there is an ongoing national response plan in place to manage previous detections of citrus canker in Northern Territory and Western Australia. In the past few months, a passenger arrived at Brisbane Airport with one kilogram of limes and another brought dried citrus peel with them.

“Biosecurity officers also intercepted dried whole citrus fruit that was imported, and all of these items were confirmed to be carrying the citrus canker pathogen. The products were declared and they were all destroyed to ensure the biosecurity risks were effectively managed.

“While Australia’s biosecurity officers and detector dogs do a great job, this is a valuable reminder that we need everyone to do their part and not bring or send prohibited items to Australia.”

Last year, more than 12,000 citrus items were intercepted at Australia’s international airports. Any one of these items may have posed a serious risk.

You must correctly declare biosecurity risk material when travelling or importing to Australia. If you don’t, penalties may include prosecution or fines. If you are visiting Australia, you can have your visa cancelled.

Nominations open for citrus industry awards 

Citrus Australia is seeking nominations for this year’s citrus industry awards. Winners are to be decided by the Citrus Australia Board, and announced at the Market Outlook Forum, 3-4 March 2020 in Melbourne, Victoria.

We ask that you please consider your fellow industry colleagues, and put forward a nomination by 5pm Friday, 24 January 2020 to Company Secretary Kellie Nulty via

You may nominate more than one person, for each of the following awards:

Value Chain Innovator Award
This is a biennial award, to companies or individuals, who have dedicated time to innovation in their field.  This may be in design, engineering, technology, or development, with an idea to improve economic growth, sustainability, cost savings, customer satisfaction, efficiency and so on.

Winners of the award in 2018 were:

  • 2PH for the development of the Phoenix Mandarin
  • Venus Citrus for their premium packaging and display of fruit
  • Pacific Fresh for their new variety development

In your nomination for the Value Chain Innovator Award, please include the nominated name (company or individual) and the reason why you are nominating them, including examples.

Hall of Fame
This is an annual award in the form of a life membership to growers who have left the industry. To be inducted into the ‘Citrus Australia Hall of Fame’, growers should have:

  • Provided outstanding service to the industry
  • Been active in the industry, by serving on a Citrus Australia committee, or having volunteered their time
  • Further developed the industry, by having taken the industry and Citrus Australia forward

Winners of the award in 2019 were:

  • Andrew Weigall
  • John Davidson (posthumously)

In your nomination for the Hall of Fame, please include the nominated name (individual) and the reason why you are nominating them, including examples.


Auscitrus secures nation’s budwood supply in new protective screenhouse

Auscitrus has strengthened its capacity to protect the nation’s budwood supplies from disease, focusing specifically on any future incursion of HLB, with the completion of its new protective screenhouse.

Grower levies, through Hort Innovation, funded the new climate-controlled structure, which will house budwood trees under insect-screened conditions, ensuring a source of HLB-free budwood for Australian citrus nurseries.

Supply trees at Auscitrus have been traditionally maintained in open-orchard conditions with routine testing but an increased prevalence of HLB in neighbouring countries and greater pressure on Australia’s quarantine borders mean the risk of an HLB outbreak has grown.  HLB poses a significant threat because it can be transmitted by an insect vector, as well as in budwood.

The availability of HLB-free budwood is seen as a critical factor in mitigating the spread of any future incursion of HLB, and in redeveloping orchards potentially affected as a result of this.

READ MORE: Citrus essential oil demand in F&B growing

Auscitrus manager Tim Herrmann described the new facility as a “game changer”.

“All varieties in the future will be grown in pots under screens and we’ll slowly phase out the trees in the field, so we won’t have anything exposed to insects in case we were to get HLB or the Asian Citrus Psyllid in the country,” Herrmann said.

“We hope we never do, and that we never actually need the new facility, but we will be ready if it ever does arrive.”

Mr Herrmann designed the new facility after he and the Auscitrus committee travelled extensively through countries that have installed similar facilities in response to an HLB incursion, including the US, South Africa, and Brazil.

The plans were revised “over and over again” based on information gathered from each visit.

“For some time we’ve had an insect-proof foundation repository for our mother trees, this holds one tree of every variety (a second tree is in a separate facility at EMAI).  We integrated that existing structure into our new insect screened complex.”

The existing buildings have been linked to the new growing areas with an insect proof atrium.

The majority of the structure is a standard steel frame commercial nursery structure with twin skin polyethylene on the roof and walls. Cooling pads are installed on one side of the structure and large extraction fans are used to extract the heat.

“We decided not to put roof vents in because they are too hard to insect proof,” Mr Herrmann said.

“All the fans and cooling pads in any area that has to be kept open for ventilation are covered in quarantine-standard insect screen to exclude any insects.

“Where we come into the building rather than having a single door there’s now a sealed double door entry way with positive pressure fans so when you open the door the air blows out past you.

“All staff go through foot baths and hand sanitising procedures. They then go through another door before entering the actual growing area.”  Each of the growing areas are also sectioned off with a sliding door.

All staff have a set of five uniforms – one for every day. When they enter different growing areas there’s a dust coat specific to that growing area so they’re not transitioning pests.

Citrus essential oil demand in F&B growing

 Citrus essential oils market continues to witness widespread adoption in multiple industrial applications, ranging from cosmetics and health care, to food and beverages. Aromatherapy is another application area of citrus essential oils where demand remains significant in light of their effective therapeutic attributes. According to a recent analysis by Fact.MR, the citrus essential oils sales increased by over 3000 tons in 2018 over 2017.

The study opines sales of citrus essential oils manufactured using grapefruits to witness relatively faster momentum, as chemical constituents of grapefruit are sought-after across various industries. Grapefruit-derived citrus essential oil sales are expected to grow 2X faster than their counterparts in 2019. Additionally, health benefits of grapefruit essential oils such as weight loss, improved immunity, and alleviation of stress, has led its adoption among producers of the citrus essential oils in line with increased consumer affinity for such products.

Consumption remains robust in F&B sector
With citrus essential oils labeled as safe for consumption by regulatory authorities, food and beverages industry continue to incorporate these essential oils into multiple products, in line with the upward trend of “clean label.” Over 30 per cent sales of citrus essential oils was accounted by the food industry in 2018. Additionally, there has been a notable rise in use of citrus essential oils in cake frostings, chocolates, and confectionery, in recent years, with numerous companies launching multiple products that feature these oils as green ingredients.

Apart from their health benefits, citrus essential oils also impart taste and flavors to food products, a reason that has substantially augmented the popularity of citrus essential oils in the food industry. Further, its antimicrobial and antifungal properties have opened up new avenues for citrus essential oils in the packaging industry, and as a natural preservative, thereby driving its sales in the F&B sector.

Recent studies have linked citrus essential oils with curing insomnia, anxiety, and its vital role in the prevention of cancer. The recent researches have increased the possibility of citrus essential oils used in aromatherapy which is gradually regaining its vigor around the world. Due to these reasons, the use of citrus essential oils in healthcare products is expected to register a Y-o-Y growth of more than per cent in 2019 over 2018.

Online retail stores to lead citrus essential oils sales
Globalisation and pervasive proliferation of the internet worldwide have streamlined the modern-day trade practices. Following the trend, online retail stores have emerged as fastest growing distribution channel for various consumer as well as industrial goods, and citrus essential oils are no exception. With aggressive marketing campaigns and lucrative discounts, online retailers continue to win over consumers and consolidate their position in the market. The facility of shopping for required goods from the comforts of home has become a pervasive trend among millennials and the aging population alike.

As awareness regarding the use of citrus essential oils grows, their demand will show no signs of abating for industrial as well as household use. The digital medium provides an extended reach to essential oil manufacturers to target consumers in various regions of a specific country or the world. Online retailers sold over 4000 tons of citrus essential oils in 2018, according to the study.

Europe is estimated to remain the largest market for citrus essential oils, despite depreciating value of Euro that has resulted in an upsurge in the cost of citrus essential oils in the region.

Victorian food and fibre exports reach record high

Victorian food and fibre exports now contribute a record $14.1 billion to the state’s economy and is on-track to meet the Andrews Labor Government’s target of $20 billion by 2030.

Minister for Agriculture Jaclyn Symes today released the 2017-18 Victorian Food and Fibre Export Performance Report, which shows an overall increase of 11 per cent or $1.4 billion on the previous year.

Victoria now accounts for 27 per cent of Australia’s total food and fibre export, with strong growth across most commodities last financial year.

A strength of Victoria’s food and fibre sector is its diversity and reputation for producing quality, clean and healthy food for key Asian markets.

China remains Victoria’s number one export market, with exports growing 27 per cent on the previous year to a total value of $4.6 billion in 2017-18. Japan and the United States are Victoria’s second and third most valuable export markets.

Victoria’s meat industry was particularly strong, with exports up 37 per cent on the previous year, reaching a total value of $3.3 billion. This has made the meat industry the state’s most valuable food and fibre export in 2017-18.

The increasing number and wealth of the world’s middle class means consumers are increasingly seeking prepared meals. Victoria’s prepared food exports performed strongly, with exports growing by 15 per cent on the previous year to be valued at $1.7 billion.

Wine exports also grew strongly, with a 36 per cent increase in exports to the United Kingdom and 39 per cent rise in exports to China. Other highlights of the report include:

  • Citrus rose by $28 million to be valued at $147 million
  • Dairy rose by $160 million to be valued at $1.9 billion
  • Prepared foods rose by $229 million to be valued at $1.7 billion
  • Wool rose by $326 million to be valued at $2.1 billion
  • Seafood rose by $36 million to be valued at $240 million
  • Wine rose by $73 million to be valued at $363 million