Onion revival credited to market shifts
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.