You're not nuts if you answered "Almonds"

Thursday, 03 September, 2015

What was Australia’s most valuable horticultural export product in 2014–15?

The latest Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) data shows that, with annual export sales of $522 million, almonds led the field as Australia’s most valuable horticultural export product in 2014–15.

The Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, said the bumper almond crop was great news for Australian growers, exporters and the horticultural industry as a whole.

This is also good news for almond lovers as the bee crisis in the US is fuelling conjecture that the US almond crop will be reduced as there won’t be enough bees to pollinate the almond blossoms.

“According to the latest ‘Almond Insights’ report by the Almond Board of Australia, the industry is forecast to go from strength to strength — next year’s exports will reach $600 million, largely due to the 2015 crop being 10,000 tonnes larger than that of 2014, and continued strong demand and prices,” Minister Joyce said.

“The latest USDA data also highlights that global demand for almonds remains strong, with total world consumption for shelled almonds now over one million tonnes per annum with two-thirds of this supplied through trade.

“The growth in this industry means we can expect to continue to see the expansion of orchards across the country, which will mean more jobs, more export sales and increased farmgate returns for growers in this valuable industry.”

Under the China–Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA), import tariffs of 10 to 24% currently faced by Australian almond producers will be eliminated over four years. This is just one example of the importance of ChAFTA for Australian horticultural exporters.

The industry has already entered a massive expansion phase with winter planting forecast to increase the orchard area by 50% to 43,000 hectares planted in the Murray Valley region in New South Wales and Victoria.

Minister Joyce said according to Almond Insights, investment in new orchards and processing facilities would inject $400 million into the Murray Valley region and would lead to further economic benefits for growing regions across Australia.

“In addition to the great news for export markets, domestic sales are also up, as people continue to realise the health benefits of eating almonds in the prevention of heart disease, diabetes and other health problems,” Minister Joyce said.

“There is also research being undertaken in Australia to confirm work done overseas on the benefits of almonds to cognitive recognition in dementia sufferers.”

Almond Insights is partially funded by the Australian Government through Horticulture Innovation Australia (HIA) Ltd. HIA is a not-for-profit, grower-owned Research and Development Corporation (RDC) investing over $100 million annually in R&D and marketing programs for the benefit of Australia’s horticulture industry.

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