The vegetable industry is one of Australia’s largest horticultural industries. The industry value of all vegetables produced for human consumption was $3.35 billion in 2014-15, around 6% of the value of all agricultural production. The industry is labour intensive and seasonal, contributing significantly to the prosperity of people living in rural and regional Australia. However, unlike most other Australian agricultural commodities, exports are currently not a major destination of Australian vegetables.

According to the 2014-15 Horticulture Statistics Handbook, the total value of fresh vegetable exports in 2015 was $173 million, representing 5% of the total vegetable industry’s value of production. Multiple future trends point to growing export potential for particular vegetable categories, especially where Australia has competitive advantage. Examples of these trends include increases in demand from Asia’s burgeoning middle class, the growing demand for safe and clean food produced in a sustainable manner, as well as the tariff reductions from recent Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with China, Japan and South Korea. A renewed focus on food exports, articulated through the Australian Government’s National Food Plan, requires the industry to understand the impact of this focus on the domestic industry.

The purpose of this project was to quantify the economic impacts (vegetable production, exports and prices) of current and projected future scenarios of changes in vegetable export activity. This work was intended to inform Hort Innovation and Australian vegetable growers to understand the sensitivity of increasing vegetable export activity on the domestic vegetable market and the associated welfare implications. The focus of the project is on vegetable categories that pay levies to Hort Innovation.