Australian table grape industry has grown to more than 8,000 hectares producing an average of 120,000 tonnes annually with a current estimated farm gate value of $330 million (ATGA). Green/white, red and black varieties of grapes are produced by 1,000 growers in the major growing regions of Sunraysia (Mildura and Robinvale) in Victoria, and also throughout South-Eastern Queensland. Other growing regions include Carnarvon and the Swan Valley in Western Australia, the Riverina district in Central New South Wales, the South Australian Riverland, and central Northern Territory. Australia’s geographical spread of production enables fresh table grapes to be available from November through to May, with the peak export period extended from January to May.
The export market is the main driver of growth and profitability. Long sunlight hours, hot summers, cool evenings and mild winters provide an ideal horticultural environment which brings out the sweetness of the grapes. Higher quality Australian grapes compared to other countries produce leads to increased international demand and increased export prices. Whilst the quantity of grapes produced is relatively small compared to other countries, in particular Chile, overseas countries are willing to pay a higher price for the sweeter Australian fruit. Decreased production capabilities in competing regions, such as the drought in California, spurs demand for Australian table grapes.
As one of Australia’s major horticulture export industries, table grapes are often the highest valued horticultural export product in Australia due to strong demand across Asia, outperforming a number of large horticultural commodities annually. Approximately 65% of table grapes grown are exported to an increasing number of destinations around the world and the remaining 35% are consumed domestically. The domestic market is supplied with a substantial amount of fruit, but increased prices driven up by the export market have tempered the demand across the country.
As the export market is the main market for the Australian Table Grape industry, threats to the trade agreements between Australia and Asia represent a risk to the industry. The price level volatility is also a risk; increased supply or quality from competitor countries, or decreased Australian levels, could result in the willingness to pay of importers decreasing and revenue of the industry decreasing. Currency fluctuations also affect the export dominated market. On a production level, adverse weather events; including heavy rain and flooding, and disease pose risks to the market.