China drives record season for Australian citrus growers

Source: Xinhua| 2018-10-19 08:57:46|Editor: Yang Yi
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CANBERRA, Oct. 19 (Xinhua) -- Australia's citrus industry is set for a second consecutive record season on the back of strong demand from China.

Ben Cant, chairman of Citrus Australia, said that citrus fruit growers were selling their product for up to three times as much as five years ago with exports trending upwards.

"We've seen returns in the vicinity of 700,900 Australian dollars (496,638 U.S. dollars) a ton on navel oranges this season," Cant told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Friday.

"In 2012/2013 we were looking at 200,300 Australian dollars a ton, which is about our cost of production ... so now we see fantastic returns for growers."

Exports to China from South Australia alone have risen up to 60 percent since China recognized South Australia's Riverland region as a pest-free area for all horticulture products late in 2017, meaning that fruit from the region could be shipped to China faster and cheaper.

"The fruit is a lot fresher when you ship it and eating quality is a more superior," Steve Burdette, chair of Citrus Australia SA, said.

"It created a lot more demand for our fruit into China."

Across the country, the value of exports has grown 10 percent to over 500 million Australian dollars for the first time.

"And we could see 550,600 million Australian dollars in export next year," Cant said.

"We've seen positive improvements in all markets, Japan has been about the same but China and the USA are up and pretty much everything across the board.

"Certainly, the demand for navel oranges continues to rise across key export markets like China."

The boom has been so profound that nurseries across the country are sold out of citrus trees until 2020 at the earliest.

"We are on a massive growth trajectory, people are putting in trees of the preferred varieties as fast as they can right now," Cant said.