The purpose of this project was to understand the reasons why vegetable imports into Australia are occurring and how the domestic industry can respond or compete with imported products.

Analysis of shipping manifest data was conducted to examine the type of product, origin, volume and price of the major vegetable vegetable lines that are imported into Australia. Results from the analysis showed that the major import volumes are occurring in the frozen sector, followed by the preserved (tinned) sector with relatively few imports of fresh vegetables. Frozen and preserved vegetables constitute the majority of vegetable imports due to their low price and availability to meet market demands. The import of fresh vegetables is not substantial relative to domestic production. Peas were the only crop where the volume of imports exceeded the estimated volume of domestic production. This was primarily due to a well‐established supply chain of frozen peas from New Zealand.

Industry analysis found that consumers and retailers have a preference for domestically sourced fresh vegetables but seek low cost frozen and processed vegetables. The import of fresh vegetables reflects a demand by consumers for product throughout the year (counter seasonal) and specific products at specific times that may not be available domestically. Frozen and processed goods have been supplied from countries that are low cost producers to meet consumer demand and preference.

Vegetable growers are not in a strong position to defend against imported product because retailers and food processors take a global approach to sourcing product in order to maximise profit. To improve growers’ position in the supply chain and strengthen the domestic industry as a whole, the project recommends the following actions:

  • Understand the supply chain.
  • Benchmark farm gate and food manufacturing.
  • Research development and extension on where Australia can continue to develop future competitive advantages in the global context.
  • Understand the market.
  • Influence the market.

 This project commenced with a detailed report in December 2013. This initial report contained the main insights and describes the ‘why’ of vegetable imports. Annual data updates have been provided for calendar years 2014 through 2017, with each report showing data for the previous calendar year. Two‐page summary reports on each vegetable crop accompanied the 2016, 2017 and 2018 annual updates.