Nation’s growers join forces

The nation’s melon, onions and vegetable growers have joined forces to develop a $13.7m export development program through Hort Innovation in a time of rising trade capacity within the industries and strong Australian produce demand.

Delivered through Hort Innovation using industry levies and funds from the Australian Government and led by vegetable representative body, AUSVEG, with support from Onions Australia and Melons Australia, the 5-year initiative will build the industries’ export capability and support their sustainability over time.

Hort Innovation head of trade Brei Montgomery said now was the time to launch the effort with various factors informing the approach.

“Now is the ideal time for this program when you look at current movements within our trade markets,” she said.

“COVID has presented challenges, but it has also resulted in new ways to engage stakeholders; the strengthening of relationships to eager markets and a desire for businesses to diversify to cater to this demand.”

Ms Montgomery said the multi-industry program was a first for the horticulture industry and would see a collaborative approach for growers in the vegetable, onion and melon industries.

“For the onion, vegetable and melon industries, working together makes sense,” she said. “They all share similar objectives to strengthen their overseas trade positions through a strategic, collaborative approach,” she said.

“Australia has a reputation for delivering quality produce that has adhered to the most stringent standards across all supply chain stages. This program will leverage and build on that great reputation.”

Underpinning the Multi-Industry Export Program is various export capability and market development activities delivered by AUSVEG through Hort Innovation. The new program includes the provision of sophisticated market intelligence data and insights for growers. On top of that, tailored advice on value-adding for export and a comprehensive program will provide growers with opportunities to re-engage with export markets and networks.

AUSVEG chief executive Michael Coote said the program focussed on building grower export capability and capacity, collating international market information for decision-making and giving vegetable, onion and melon growers the ability to participate in the AUSVEG market development program. He said business development functions to uplift the ability of exporting growers to service a wider range of markets and channels and expand international trade opportunities in the future would also be priorities.

Melons Australia chief executive Johnathon Davey said there were plenty of synergies in the export development work that AUSVEG undertakes for the vegetable industry and the outcomes the melon industry has identified as priorities in building its capabilities in export.

“The melon industry has identified growing export markets as a key priority for the industry moving forward and it makes sense for our industry to work with AUSVEG in this project,” said Mr Davey.

“I look forward to working with AUSVEG, Hort Innovation and the broader melon industries to increase the capabilities of melon growers to service new and existing international markets.”

Onions Australia Executive Committee member and exporter Tim Groom said the program would support a strong history of successful trade and relationship building.

“The Australian onion industry is the second largest vegetable crop exported in Australia with a significant portion of mature growers who have a strong export focus,” he said.

“What this program will do is underpin decades of hard work by the industry and offer new insights and approaches building on our success.

“Onions Australia has been working for several years now to increase our focus on strong export programs and is looking forward to supporting our growers to access this new program.”

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