The Australian vegetable industry has grown significantly by taking advantage of changes in consumer incomes and tastes.
ABARES Executive Director, Dr Jared Greenville said the Growing the Australian vegetable industry by diversifying products and improving quality report shows that vegetable industry growth has significantly outpaced the overall agricultural sector over the past five decades.
“The vegetable sector has seen growth through a shift toward higher value products and improvements in the quality and convenience of what is provided,” Dr Greenville said.
Over the period from 1969-70 to 2020-21, the nominal value of vegetable production increased by $4.7 billion.
“Improvements in product mix and quality contributed nearly 60% of that growth while general vegetable price inflation contributed 35% and increased volumes 5%, “ Dr Greenville said.
Rising incomes and changing tastes have shifted consumer demand towards higher quality, wider variety and improved convenience, with only a moderate increase in volumes.
“We are not eating greater quantities of vegetables, rather we are eating a wider range of higher quality vegetables.”
The improvement in quality has come from a variety of sources, including improved packaging, greater consistency, more ready to eat products and greater year-round availability.
“An important experience of the vegetable sector has been the on-farm value created by effectively responding to changes in consumer preferences and the role that close relationships along supply chains have played.
While the experience of the vegetable sector may not be fully applicable everywhere, it seems likely that for a wide range of products in major export markets a capacity to differentiate based on quality attributes will be increasingly important as consumer incomes increase and tastes evolve” Dr Greenville said.