Australian carrot exports rose more than 7 per cent last year to become a $100 million industry. 

Key points:

  • Carrot exports increased 7 per cent last year to $100 million
  • Overall, Australia’s fresh vegetable exports were valued at $263 million, down 6 per cent
  • Northern Territory growers have also started exporting pumpkins to Singapore

While exports of fresh vegetables were down overall in 2020, carrot exports increased in both volume and value.

“With hospitality and the food service sector shutting down in Australia as a result of the pandemic, the exact same situation was happening in export markets,” incoming AUSVEG chief executive Michael Coote said.

“Restaurants, cafes, hotels, bars and pubs were all shut down and people were eating from home. 

“So retail demand went up considerably in a lot of countries, as it did here … and carrots, as a staple vegetable that we use in the majority of the dinners, did too.

“The same thing was happening in Singapore, Hong Kong and all of our major markets.”

a graphic showing fresh vegetable exports in 2020

Carrot exports were a shining light in 2020.(

Landline

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Mr Coote said more than 110,000 tonnes of carrots were exported last year with the majority sent to Asia and the Middle East.

He said Western Australia accounted for 85 per cent of carrot exports.

“Carrot exports have continued to grow, especially in the past couple of years,” Mr Coote said.

He said there was room for the industry to expand but labour issues, freight logistics, and rising regulatory costs were concerning.

“We can grow a lot more product in Australia. It’s just a matter of finding a home for it, so export markets is where that growth can come from.”

box of pumpkins

Butternut pumkins from near Katherine, ready for export to SIngapore.(

Supplied: Robert Hall

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NT starts exporting pumpkins

Pumpkin exports also bucked the trend in 2020, growing 16 per cent in value to $5.8 million.

And it could get larger in the coming years if plans in the Northern Territory come to fruition.

Around 10 tonnes of butternut pumpkins was shipped out of Darwin earlier this week, bound for Singapore, in what NT farmers are hoping is the start of a new market for Top End growers.

The pumpkins were grown near Katherine and are understood to be the first pumpkins exported directly from the NT in at least 20 years.

“We’re definitely hoping for more shipments [this year],” Pak Fresh Handling’s Robert Hall said.

“This client in Singapore is looking at five to six more containers, and we’re also looking at Indonesia and Malaysia as future destinations.

“So hopefully over the next few weeks and months, we’ll do more [pumpkin exports] into those areas. 

“We’re all about opening up different avenues for growers … and to do it straight out of Darwin means it gets to the overseas customers in Asia quicker and keeps the quality of the produce at a premium.”

the outside of a big building with people standing in hard-hats.

Darwin’s new export hub and cold storage facility is paving the way for more NT exports.(

ABC Rural: Matt Brann

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Exciting development for the north

CEO of the NT Farmers Association, Paul Burke, said pumpkin exports was an exciting development for the north.

“The fact that the Darwin Logistics Hub is now exporting products will give growers some comfort that the hub is hitting its straps,” he said.

“This initial consignment will also pave the way for melons to leave via Darwin as opposed to making the long trip south prior to being exported.

“I have no doubt many mango growers are looking on with considerable interest and will be considering marketing options in new markets for the upcoming season.”

During lockdown, it seems the world has turned to carrots, with Australian exports hitting $100m
Source:
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