AUSVEG today warned that plummeting vegetable prices would make it difficult for Australian vegetable growers to break even.

Consumer Price Index data recently released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows a 5.6 per cent fall in the price of vegetables for the September quarter.

AUSVEG is the national peak industry body representing the interests of Australian vegetable and potato growers.

AUSVEG Chairman John Brent said that the price fall would inevitably flow on to growers and could be attributed to a number of factors including pressure from international import markets and favourable seasonal conditions.

‘Any fall in vegetable prices of this magnitude will inevitably cause flow on affects for Australian growers, who will likely bear the brunt when retailers pass on these losses,’ Mr Brent said.

‘This has been a particularly hard year for growers, who’ve been faced with water shortages and poor rainfall,’ he said.

‘Rising input costs, together with pressure from increasing imports from countries such as China and New Zealand, are making it difficult for many Australian growers and their families to break even,’ he said.

Statistics obtained from the ABS show that between 2004/05 and 2008/09 vegetable exports have fallen by 1.6 per cent, while in that same four-year timeframe imports have increased by more than 80 per cent.

‘Governments need to do more to support the Australian vegetable industry which employs 30,000 Australians and is worth $3.2 Billion annually,’ he said.

‘They should give consideration to any measures, such as improved country of origin labelling, which will help consumers support the viability of Australian growers,’ he said.

Australia’s trade deficit in vegetables rose by 22 per cent in 2008/09 to a record $384.5 million according to ABS data.

‘Australian companies are increasingly going to try and import products from China, New Zealand or North America due to the strong value of the Australian dollar. Consumers need to tell these companies that Australian jobs are just as important as profit margins,’ Mr Brent said.

‘Some Australian processed vegetable growers have had to accept significantly reduced contracts this year. If this situation continues it could put at risk the livelihoods of hundreds of Australian families and rural communities. We need to commit to Australian produced vegetables for food security into the future,’ he said.

MEDIA CONTACT: Hugh Tobin, Communications Manager, AUSVEG Ph: 03 9544 8098, Mob: 0431 939 920, Email: