Good Citrus Exports End Tough Year on The Domestic Market For Growers
Queensland citrus growers are expanding their plantings of export varieties off the back of good prices that outperformed domestic markets.
Alan Jenkins from Ironbark Citrus at Mundubbera in central Queensland said last year was a challenge for domestic varieties like imperial mandarins, but prices for fruit popular overseas were encouraging.
"I think the prices we received were some of the best for many years," he said.
"It was a pity our volumes were down ..probably 30 per cent.
"But the price that we received well and truly compensated for the lack of volume."
Mr Jenkins said export prices were high because of; a shortage in China and Thailand, strong demand and the good quality of the fruit.
He said orchardists were expanding their plantations in response.
In Queensland we've been expanding and looking at different varieties to plant over the last few years .. (like) low seeded Murcotts."
"We're now starting to see the benefit of that .. in greater market acceptance and that enables us to market Murcott mandarins for a longer period of time into the close Asian markets."
The state's growers and packers have been working collaboratively to develop new strategies and markets, which Mr Jenkins said had helped improve profitability.
Growers face domestic challenges
Bevan Young, who grows mandarins at Gayndah, said the good export season balanced the low domestic prices, particularly for Imperial mandarins.
"The first half of the season .. was probably one of the worst seasons we've had for a while," he said.
"The crop (volume) was up.. but the latter half of the season, exports went really well, probably the strongest one we've had in a long time."
He said it was too early to predict the size of the domestic crop in 2017, but he expected it would be down.
"District-wide it's probably going to be down 10-15 per cent," he said.
"The crop-set initially was a bit lighter but they're all showing up now and I think fruit size is probably better this year."
He said an improvement in conditions and domestic prices would lift morale.
"It's probably a little bit sombre based on the last couple of years... so I guess everyone is hoping that the price is going to be up a few dollars a box."