A significant rise in potato imports into Australia is forecast for 2016, sparking concern about the profitability and competitiveness of the Australian potato industry over the coming months.
New data from Global Trade Atlas for the first quarter of 2016 has revealed potato imports into Australia have increased by 23 per cent in comparison to the same time last year across a range of potato product categories, including frozen and non-frozen prepared potatoes.
Shaun Lindhe, spokesperson for AUSVEG:
“As this data sets the forecast for the year, it appears that we can expect a significant rise in potato imports compared to 2015.”
“The data shows a 37 per cent growth in frozen prepared potato imports compared to the first quarter of 2015, as well as a 21 per cent growth in non-frozen prepared potatoes.”
“These statistics are extremely concerning as Australian potato growers will be competing against cheaper imported produce in the foreseeable future.”
“This competitive disadvantage is compounded by Australia’s higher costs of production compared to most overseas countries, including significantly higher labour costs. These factors naturally have an impact on the ultimate price of potato produce.”
Australian potato exports have also experienced a six per cent decline in comparison to the first quarter of 2015, which equates to approximately $290,000 in lost sales.
According to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, potato exports are likely to remain at similar levels in the medium-term.
“This data, along with an increase of 24,000 tonnes of frozen potato imports over the 2014-15 financial year, shows that cheap potato imports continue to be a major concern for the industry.”
“If this trend continues, the overall viability of the Australian potato industry will be under serious threat.”
A detailed article can be found in the latest edition of Potatoes Australia, an industry funded magazine, which promotes industry research and development while keeping growers and stakeholders in the loop with the latest news from domestic and international industry.
Potatoes Australia is funded by Horticulture Innovation Australia using the National Potato Levy and funds from the Australian Government.