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Insights October 2020

9 October 2020 |Horticulture
Workers in the field

Insights October 2020

9 October 2020 |Horticulture
The October update provides an analysis of production and pricing trends for Australian horticulture producers.

Overview

  • Northern Territory mango harvest is predicted to be larger this season.
  • Early season asparagus prices have been significantly lower in comparison to this time last year.

Across the horticulture industry, potential labour shortages remain of some concern. Australia's fruit and vegetable farmers may need an additional 26,000 workers to harvest their crops this summer with the number of backpackers available for harvest reducing by as much as 60 per cent due to the coronavirus outbreak. In response to this issue, the federal government has approved seasonal worker trials including 163 workers from Vanuatu being permitted to enter the Northern Territory to work on mango farms during harvest with the hope that this trial can be quickly expanded to accommodate other agricultural industries in need of labour.

The Australian mango season is beginning to hit full swing with national dispatch levels increasing from 100,000 trays a week in early September to the expected 400,000 trays a week by the end of October. September prices are currently sitting 33.6 per cent higher in comparison to last year on the back of increased demand. Most mangos are currently being dispatched from the NT with a shift towards Queensland from November onwards. Conditions have been ideal for this year’s mango crop with growers confident of consistent quality throughout the season.

Asparagus picking is now in full swing with a strong harvest expected following above average rainfall across the major asparagus crop region in Victoria. Early season asparagus prices are 40.8 per cent lower in comparison to this time last year with the current price of $10.35 per kilo also considerably lower than the three-year average. The lower prices are reflecting the decreased export demand from Japan which has been Australia’s largest asparagus export market in previous years.

In WA, Hass avocado prices are largely in line with the 3-year average, although September prices are 119.5 per cent higher in comparison to September last year, primarily due to supply coming onto market slightly later than previous years.

Following favourable growing conditions throughout winter and early spring, loose-leaf lettuce supply remains strong across both Western Australia and Victoria. With strong supply and reduced demand, particularly in Victoria, prices for loose-leaf vegetable varieties continue to remain below last year. With Victoria now slowly emerging from lockdown we should begin to see food services demand begin to pick up over the next couple of months which should add support to loose-leaf vegetable prices.

   

Sources: Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Ausmarket and Rural Bank
*Tropical price index includes bananas, mangoes, pineapples, passionfruit and paw paw.
** stem vegetables include celery, green asparagus and white asparagus.

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