Horticulture fact sheet

​Overview

Australia’s horticulture industry comprises fruit, vegetables, nuts, flowers, turf and nursery products. The industry operates in a highly competitive domestic and international market, is labour intensive and mostly seasonal. The horticulture industry also contributes significantly to the prosperity of people living in rural and regional Australia. In 2012–13 approximately 56 700 people were employed in Australia to grow fruit, vegetables and nuts for the domestic and export markets (Australian Food Statistics, 2012-13).

Australia’s horticulture industry has long enjoyed a domestic and international reputation as a sustainable  producer of premium safe food—primarily due to our high standards across all stages of the supply chain, from farm to consumer. It comprises mainly small-scale family farms—however, there is a growing trend towards medium to larger scale operations. Australian farmers continue to adjust their operations and adopt new technologies to respond to the opportunities and challenges of agricultural production in Australia including, increased competition from imported fresh and processed produce, market price pressures, challenging or adverse seasonal conditions.

The major horticulture growing areas in Australia include:

  • Goulburn Valley of Victoria
  • Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area of New South Wales
  • Sunraysia district of Victoria and New South Wales
  • Riverland region of South Australia
  • northern Tasmania
  • southwest Western Australia and
  • the coastal strip of both northern New South Wales and Queensland.

Banana, pineapple, mandarin, avocado, mango, fresh tomato, capsicum, and zucchini production is concentrated in Queensland; stonefruit, oranges and grapes in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia; processing potatoes in Tasmania; fresh pears, canning fruit and processing tomatoes in Victoria; and apples and fresh vegetables in all states.

Australia has a significant tropical horticultural industry including large irrigation schemes in the Ord River in Western Australia and the Burdekin River in Queensland. Bananas, mangoes, avocados, papaya, lychees, cucurbits (rockmelons, watermelons, pumpkins) together with tropical nursery plants and vegetables are important industries. There is also a growing “rare and exotic fruit” industry producing fruits such as abiu, carambola, durian, jackfruit, mangosteen, pitaya, rambutan, and tamarillo.

Nursery production generally occurs close to the capital cities. Some horticultural produce from the southern states is directed to processing. Queensland vegetables typically supply the southern states during the cooler June to October period.

Tree nut crops grown throughout Australia include almonds, cashews, chestnuts, hazelnuts, macadamias, peanuts, pecans, pistachios and walnuts.

The Riverina and Northern Rivers regions of New South Wales are major producers of almonds, chestnuts, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans and walnuts. In Victoria, the Sunraysia, Swan Hill, central west and north eastern regions of Victoria produce almonds, chestnuts, hazelnuts and pistachios. Mount Hotham in Victoria produces a small amount of pine nuts. The Riverland and Adelaide Hills regions of South Australia produce chestnuts, walnuts and, in the Pinnaroo regions, a small amount of pistachios are grown. Queensland produces macadamias, pecan and cashews. The Swan Valley region of Western Australia produces almonds, chestnuts, and hazelnuts. Tasmania produces a small amount of hazelnuts and walnuts.

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Production statistics

In 2013–14 Australian horticulture (excluding wine grapes) had a gross value of $8.73 billion, ranked third behind the meat and grain industries.

The major product groups had the following gross value of production in 2013–14:

  • Fruit and nuts:  $3 187 million
  • Vegetables: $3 510 million
  • Nursery, cut flowers and cultivated turf: $1 247 million

Source: ABARES Agricultural commodities: September quarter 2015 – Statistics.

The production of major individual commodities in 2013–14 were:

Commodity

Production (in kilo tonnes - kt)

Potatoes1171
Oranges 350
Tomatoes326
Apples 267
Onions256
Bananas254
Carrots243

Source: ABARES Agricultural commodities: September quarter 2015 – Statistics.

Trade statistics

In 2014-15 the value of exported fresh and processed fruit, vegetables, nuts, and nursery products was $2.1 billion. The export of fresh produce (particularly fruit) is limited by quarantine restrictions in a number of countries including Japan, USA, Vietnam, South Korea, Taiwan and mainland China.

In 2013–14 the value of imported seasonal fresh and processed fruit, nuts and vegetables was
$2.342 billion. The largest suppliers of imported vegetables to Australia are New Zealand, Italy, China
and the United States. Fresh fruit imports were dominated by kiwifruit, oranges, grapes and avocados.  The value of fresh fruit exports continues to exceed the value of fresh fruit imports and Australia’s exports of fresh vegetables amounted to more than twice the value of fresh vegetable imports.

Value (millions of dollars) of exports of horticultural commodities

2010–112011–122012–132013–14
Fruit & Nuts6677459821334
Vegetables296276260270
Nursery20151211
TOTAL983103612541615

(source: ABARES: Agricultural Commodity Statistics 2014, Table 123)

Value (millions of dollars) of imports of horticultural commodities

 2010–112011–122012–132013–14
Fruit & Nuts1061122911471430
Vegetables716846832912
TOTAL1777207519792342

(source: ABARES: Agricultural Commodity Statistics 2014, Table 123)