Strawberries Australia

Facts & Figures & other information

Strawberries are grown all year round in all States of Australia.  As well as extending "traditional" summertime production in temperate climates from October through to May (through the utilisation of different varieties and planting techniques), the diversity of Australian climate enables June-September production in warmer or sub-tropical climates, as presented in the following table:

State
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
% of Total Production
Vic
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
32%
QLD
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
33%
WA
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
22%
SA
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
10%
Tas
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
2%
NSW
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
1%


An estimated 620 growers (in 2005) are involved in the industry.  Production is concentrated in coastal regions, namely the Sunshine Coast area of QLD, the Camden region of NSW, the Yarra Valley region in Victoria, the Adelaide Hills, SA, and Wannaroo and Albany in WA

The short-term fruiting cycle of strawberries allows some growers to grow strawberry crops intermittently with other short-term crops, such as vegetables. For example, in Queensland there is a core group of 250 known regular growers, while 60-100 enter and leave the industry over short periods (Qld Strawberry Growers' Association, 2003).

On the world scale, Australia was the 28th largest strawberry producer by volume in 2002, with the USA, Spain and Japan the top three respectively (FAOStat Agricultural Database).  However, Australia ranks higher (17th) in production efficiency, producing an estimated 21 t/ha in 2002.  World leaders in production efficiency are the USA, Israel and Spain, with 46, 42.5 and 42 t/ha estimated for 2002 respectively.
(FAOStat Agricultural Database).

Given that normal population growth would have expanded production from 25,700t in 1997/98 to about 27,000t in 2001/02, the significant increase in national production has arisen through rising per capita consumption, driven by:

  • Varieties that eat better
  • More effective marketing by growers
  • Improved cool chain management
  • Increased government support for industry research in Queensland
The combination of production across most states provides a year-round national supply, primarily as fresh fruit for the retail or hospitality market.  Most Australian fruit is marketed in punnets, bearing the name of the business on the label.  Due to the inconsistency in flavour that varieties can have across a season, and the fact that consumers are generally not familiar with strawberry variety names, varietal information has not usually been displayed on labels.

Second and third-grade fruit is frequently frozen and sold to processors for products such as jam. Some growers develop their own "value-added" strawberry products where these are profitable and a niche market can be found, but few value-added product markets are sustained. Processors of these products frequently struggle to maintain a supply of Australian fruit throughout the year.

The industry is focussed on domestic fresh fruit marketing, however exports do occur on a largely opportunistic basis.  Imports of fresh fruit have declined to almost negligible levels, although there are significant imports of processed strawberry products.  The following table presents recent trend information for exports and imports of fresh fruit:

Graph - Imports

Total volume of Australian strawberry imports and exports since 1998.
Sources:  The Australian Horticultural Statistics Handbook, 2002;
The Australian Horticultural Statistics Handbook, 2000-2001.

As production increases and product becomes consistently available on a year-round basis, consumer expectations of strawberries are likely to change.  Berry markets in Europe and the USA are developing supply-chain management systems following the success of marketing co-operatives, or supply-chain companies such as Kentish Gardens (UK) and Driscolls (USA).  The Australian industry is yet to comprehensively explore co-operative marketing and quality specifications on a year-round basis that deliver a consistent quality of berry to the consumer as a branded product.

Whilst there is no national promotion levy in place for strawberries, generic promotions are currently undertaken by the Queensland and Victorian Strawberry Growers Associations, with funds collected from growers in those states specifically for that purpose.

For more information about the Victorian industry go to:   vicstrawberry.com.au



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