Vegetable growers buffer rising costs

Data in the Australian Horticulture Statistics Handbook reveals vegetable growers produced 3.59 million tonnes of vegetables in 2022-23.

Newly-released data in the Australian Horticulture Statistics Handbook reveals Australian vegetable growers produced 3.59 million tonnes of vegetables in 2022-23 with a production value of $5.83 billion.

Coinciding with a period marked by severe weather events and major increases in farm input costs, the handbook shows production volume was down only three per cent compared to the previous year.

While the $5.83 billion overall production value – an increase of 5.4 per cent compared to the previous year represents a record high in dollar terms, this was offset by a six per cent increase in CPI over the same period. As a further indication of the financial pressures confronting many vegetable growing businesses, the four per cent increase in fresh supply wholesale value from $5.91 billion to $6.17 billion represents a decline in real terms.

The Australian Horticulture Statistics Handbook, released by Hort Innovation, quantifies the value and volume of all major vegetable and fruit crops produced in Australia, including exports, and also includes imports.

AUSVEG CEO Michael Coote stated, “This handbook is an important data source that helps growers and other supply chain stakeholders make informed business decisions and better understand the bigger picture in the Australian horticulture sector.”

“Australian vegetable growers continue to supply more than 98 per cent of the fresh vegetables sold domestically and employ tens of thousands of people. This data again demonstrates the critical role the nation’s vegetable growers play, not only in providing the nation with produce, but also in terms of its major contributions to the national economy.

“These contributions have occurred despite the severe weather events, labour shortages and supply chain issues that have affected production volumes of many vegetables. These challenges have also impacted growers’ profitability, with both the overall and fresh wholesale production values of many common commodities down on the previous year, both in year-on-year and actual terms.

“The vegetable sector is also very diverse, and within this data there are crops which have experienced significant production drops, such as tomatoes, asparagus and fresh peas, contrasted against big growth such as cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and beetroot.

“Despite the difficult operating environment, the fact the vegetable industry has managed to achieve another year of record overall production value in dollar terms is testament to the vital contributions vegetable growers continue to make to Australia.

“This year’s data shows total production value increasing by 2.8 per cent to $16.3 billion, reflecting some of the challenges that industry has faced over the last few years impacting profitability.”

Coote said, “For vegetables, record values were recorded for another year, with overall value reaching an all-time high of $5.83 billion, an increase of 5.4 per cent on 2021/22.”

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