Positive growth in food exports
Australian agri-food exports have grown for the eighth consecutive year, exceeding $50 billion for the first time, with Victoria one of the key drivers behind the boom.
A Rural Bank report revealed that the state registered the largest growth in value across the country, jumping $1.4 billion in value, driven by growth in sheep meat and beef, which added a combined $780 million in value from last year.
Victorian wool exports jumped $327 million in value to $2.11 billion, while the $1.89 billion dairy industry remained strong, with the growth areas more than offsetting declines of $171 million in both canola and lentils.
The positive growth nationwide was despite a harsh drop in broadacre crop exports which lost $3.5 billion in value throughout the financial year.
‘‘A decline was likely after record high winter crop production in the previous season led to a comparable record high in the volume of grain exported,’’ the report said.
‘‘In 2017-18 the volume of grain produced and exported was lower by 35 per cent and 25 per cent, respectively.’’
The value of exports of sheep meat and wool saw the largest increase, up 24 per cent and 22 per cent, as exceptionally strong demand for exports drove saleyard and auction prices to record levels during the year.
‘‘Cattle industry exports increased in value for the first time since 2014-15, up by 10.2 per cent, with strong demand from Japan and China providing support to prices in the face of strong supply from Australia and other major exporters,’’ the report states.
For the first time since 2013-14 dairy exports showed recovery, recording their first year of growth in four years.
China continues to be Australia’s largest export market, growing 16 per cent to see $1.65 billion worth of goods sent to the country last financial year.
Japan and the United States also registered strong growth with dairy exports increasing 9.5 per cent and 7.6 per cent respectively.
Although the overall value of dairy exports increased by 8.9 per cent, the volume fell slightly by 0.2 per cent.
The value of cheese and curd exports increased by 11.9 per cent, buoyed by an increase in volume and value. The Japanese market accounted for 50 per cent of Australia’s cheese exports and more than 30 per cent of the cheese imported by Japan.
The outlook for dairy exports has improved with expected growth in global demand, led by China and Japan.
‘‘Although production increased in 2017-18 there is still a need for more milk supply to meet Australia’s growing export demand. This is expected to create strong competition between milk processors, resulting in higher farm gate milk prices,’’ the report said.
International partners also took interest in Australia’s growing wine industry, with wine exports up almost a fifth, driven by a growing demand for red wine in China.
Crisp start . . . Frosty mornings continued across the region late last week, with Benalla photographer Rene Martens capturing the lifting of early morning fog.