Onion re­vival cred­ited to mar­ket shifts

Mercury (Hobart) - - NEWS - HE­LEN KEMP­TON

TAS­MA­NIAN onion ex­ports are con­tin­u­ing to re­build with solid growth in the In­done­sian and Eu­ro­pean mar­kets help­ing to coun­ter­act a drop in de­mand from Ja­pan and the Mid­dle East.

The value of ex­ports in the first half of this year has al­ready out­stripped the 2018 to­tal.

How­ever, the in­dus­try is still keen to re­verse the slow­down in what have been two of its strong­est mar­kets.

Tas­ma­nia is Aus­tralia’s ma­jor onion grower and the state ac­counts for more than half the onions ex­ported over­seas. Onions are the state’s big­gest ex­port veg­etable.

In the first six months 2019 onion ex­ports topped $18.5 mil­lion – dou­ble the 2018 fig­ure of $9 mil­lion – ac­cord­ing to new fig­ures from the in­dus­try and the Aus­tralian Bu­reau of Sta­tis­tics.

Ex­ports to the lu­cra­tive In­done­sian mar­ket have in­creased four­fold while those to the Eu­ro­pean Union have dou­bled over the past year.

The in­dus­try at­tributes some of the re­build­ing suc­cess to the Fed­eral Govern­ment’s Pro­gram As­sist­ing Small Ex­porters.

Last year the Tas­ma­nian Fruit and Veg­etable Ex­port Fa­cil­i­ta­tion Group re­ceived a PASE grant to ex­plore new niche mar­kets af­ter onion ex­ports plunged in 2017.

Ex­ports had peaked at 44,000 tonnes in 2013 but four years later had dropped to 14,000 tonnes. This was mostly due to EU mar­ket changes, the strong Aus­tralian dol­lar and a fo­cus on Asian mar­kets.

“Our onion ex­ports were spi­ralling down and strong, fo­cused mea­sures were needed to re­build valu­able mar­kets and de­velop new ones.,” TFVEFG fa­cil­i­ta­tor Ian Locke said.

“We worked hard to se­cure PASE fund­ing which has re­sulted in in­creased ex­ports, higher mar­gins and the added ben­e­fit of wealth cre­ation for Tas­ma­nia.”

Mr Locke said the In­done­sian mar­ket had enor­mous po­ten­tial. In the first half of this year 830 tonnes of onions left Tas­ma­nia for that coun­try, com­pared to just 190 tonnes last year.

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