New research details the how and why of vegetable imports – and how Australian growers can respond
Imported vegetables pose a significant threat to the Australian vegetable industry, mainly from countries with cheaper labour and costs of production. Imported vegetables compete directly with local vegetable supply, creating a very competitive environment for local growers and food manufacturers.
To help our industry understand the core reasons why vegetable imports come into Australia and how the domestic industry can respond to this threat, newly published levy-funded research by RM Consulting Group (RMCG) has investigated the nature, origins, volume and values of vegetable imports.
Results from the project team’s analysis showed that the bulk of vegetable imports come in through the frozen and preserved (tinned) sectors, with relatively few imports of fresh vegetables. Frozen and preserved vegetables are imported due to their low price and availability to meet market demands throughout the year; meanwhile, the low levels of fresh imports are largely in response to consistent demand for produce which cannot be grown year-round in Australia.
This project began in 2012, when the retail demand for Australian frozen vegetables was significantly different to the current landscape – including the ongoing impact of Simplot’s work supplying frozen vegetables to Australia’s major supermarkets’ private labels.
However, to help our industry continue to manage the threat of imports, the team made recommendations in its final report, which is now available on the InfoVeg database.
Over the life of the project, the team also produced a series of fact sheets illustrating the available data on vegetable imports for major lines: beans, capsicums, peas, sweet corn and mixed vegetable products. You can find these fact sheets on the Hort Innovation website.