TABLE grape export prices have spiked this year with exports exceeding 100,000 tonnes for the first time.
According to the Australian Table Grape Association the 2015-16 table grape export season saw 108,594 tonnes exported and April recorded the highest single volume of Australian table grapes exported for any month at 32,587 tonnes. Exports to Japan increased by 406 per cent on the previous year, making it the fourth-largest export market for Australian table grapes.
ATGA chief executive Jeff Scott said growth in the Japanese market was projected to continue.
“Experts believe Japan could easily become Australia’s second-biggest trading partner after China,” Mr Scott said. “It’s important to note at this point that the Japanese fresh produce market has seen growth in only two categories — table grapes and kiwifruit.”
The combined volume for the China and Hong Kong markets was 513 per cent higher in comparison with last year, but the Hong Kong market alone had dropped by 56 per cent.
Indonesia was the second-largest destination after China and was up 34 per cent at the end of April.
Exports totalled 108,594 tonnes to the end of May 2016 with an estimated value of $364 million, making it 32 per cent higher than the same time last season.
Mr Scott said achieving new access into high-value markets such as China, Japan and South Korea had given the table grape industry an export advantage over other Australian fruit industries.
“Product differentiation is the key for Australian table grape growers. Major competitors Chile, South Africa and Peru have significant production advantages with cheap labour and lower input costs, by which the average Australian grower is unable to compete,” he said. “In order to command a premium price over the significant volumes being produced by Chile, the Australian grower must supply fruit with high sugar content, crisp berries and consistent bunch colour.”
The Weekly Times reported earlier this year table grape growers said lower production levels and strong demand had pushed export prices up.