As consumers experience what growers have suggested are the lowest retail vegetable prices for the winter period in over five years, recently released vegetable production data shows a worrying 5.9 per cent decrease in production in 2008/09 against the previous year, Andrew White, spokesperson for AUSVEG, Australia’s Peak Industry Body for 9,000 potato and vegetable growers said today.

“This decrease in vegetable production is a product of the pressure many growers are experiencing as Australia chooses to increase imports from our international competitors who are now dramatically increasing their market share,” Mr White said.

“Australian growers are essentially being squeezed out by these international suppliers that have lower input costs and lower wages, but which produce products that are generally of a lower quality and freshness, and consumers should be concerned.”

“It’s important to recognise that we can’t guarantee that the same quality assurance procedures are being applied overseas as exist in Australia.”

“It’s vital that consumers continue to support Australian growers and our local rural economies, particularly given the currently very affordable retail vegetable prices which are offering consumers some real bargain buying opportunities,” Mr White said.

According to data obtained from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) through Industry Data Economic Analysis the biggest declines in production in 2008/09 were for capsicum chillies and peppers which were down by 16.7 per cent, potatoes at 15.8 per cent lower and watermelons which were 13.8 per cent lower than the year before.

On a positive note, Mr White said that many growers were currently benefiting from a high turnover in vegetable volumes by the major retailers.

“A higher turnover of vegetables at reasonable prices is currently resulting in steadier and more sustainable returns for growers and better buying opportunities for consumers. It’s really a win-win situation for both growers and consumers.”

Continuing the trend of recent years the area planted for vegetables fell by around 4 per cent in 2008/09.
Showing that consumers still favour what might be termed the mainstream vegetable types, the top 10 vegetables planted accounted for over 70% of the total area planted.

“Programs like MasterChef are driving demand for a greater variety of vegetables and this is a positive for the vegetable industry, but overall the top vegetable types still account for a majority of the total area planted,” Mr White said.


MEDIA CONTACT: Andrew White, Senior Communications Officer, AUSVEG
Phone: (03) 9822 0388, Mobile: 0409 989 575, Email: