Projections of India’s increasing demand for imported vegetables provide an excellent outlook for the Australian vegetable industry, but better terms of trade are required if Australia is to capitalise on that demand, according to Australia’s leading horticultural body.

The findings, contained in the ABARES report What India wants: Analysis of India’s food demand to 2050, project that Indian vegetable consumption will increase by 183 per cent to 2050.

This increase is not expected to be matched by domestic Indian vegetable production, which will only increase by 107 per cent. Indian vegetable imports are therefore predicted to reach US$47 billion (in 2009 US dollars) by 2050, a massive increase on what the report calls “negligible” current imports.

“The Australian vegetable industry is looking to expand its export markets, and these projections show that there is a tangible opportunity for Australian growers to capitalise on the growing export market to India,” said AUSVEG spokesperson Andrew White.

“Counter-seasonal supply, as well as the need for inputs to India’s expanding food processing sector, provide valuable chances for Australian growers to increase their export markets.”

“However, the current terms of trade could prove an obstacle, with tariffs on Australian vegetables and poor market access a real issue for Australian vegetable exporters.”

AUSVEG is the leading horticultural body representing Australia’s 9,000 vegetable and potato growers.

The report’s release coincides with talk of speeding up negotiations over the Australia-India Comprehensive Economic Agreement and recent trade successes, including an FTA with China which will phase out horticultural tariffs.

“AUSVEG has been a strong supporter of the trade agreements recently negotiated by the Coalition Government. A free trade agreement with India which provides the same benefits could help Australian growers access the growing multi-billion-dollar Indian vegetable import market, if developed alongside efforts to increase market access,” said Mr White.

“A favourable trading status with India and increased bilateral consultation on phytosanitary protocols are vital if Australian growers are to take advantage of this growing market.”

“Otherwise, the combination of high tariffs and limited market access will rule out India as a potential market for most growers, leaving Australia behind while other countries cash in.”

“A sustained effort to put horticulture on the negotiating table, both by addressing tariffs and by increasing cooperation on phytosanitary matters, could significantly strengthen Australia’s trading relationship with a market which will only become more valuable.”

“Australian growers produce high-quality clean, green and safe vegetables, and early successes in the Indian market could lay a foundation for increased trading as their vegetable consumption increases.”

  Andrew White, Manager of Industry Development & Communications, Phone: (03) 9882 0277, Mobile: 0409 989 575, Email: