Australia: Banana Industry Should Look to Exports for Future


Increasing banana exports could be the key to shoring up the Australian banana industry into the future.

It was one of the reoccurring ideas discussed at last week's Australian Banana Industry Congress at the Gold Coast where some 350 members of the banana supply chain, including 100 growers, came together.

Hosted by the Australian Banana Growers Council (ABGC), the biennial event attracted people from Queensland, NSW, Western Australia, Adelaide and the Northern Territory.

In his opening speech, Congress chair and Lakeland grower, Paul Inderbitzin, encouraged the industry to look to exports as the next step in furthering the industry.

He said the path towards increased banana exports should be done carefully, through a five to 10 year plan.  But pushing into new areas could bring some discomfort.

When it comes to dipping upping exports, Australia would be a small fish diving into a big pond.

Statistics gathered by Fresh Intelligence Consulting principal and senior analyst, Wayne Prowse, showed bananas were the most traded fruit globally with 153 million tonnes produced in 2017 from 135 countries.

Australia produced 388,265t to June 2018, the vast majority of which was consumed locally.

In fact, the 2017/18 Australian Horticulture Statistics Handbook did not list a value for fresh Australian banana exports, saying the little international trade that did occur was dominated by dried banana products with just 135 tonnes exported to June 2018.

He encouraged the banana industry to foster inter-business cooperation and maintain a sense of humour in dealing with hurdles.

Another major issue addressed at the Congress was dealing with the disease, Panama Tropical Race 4 (TR4).

Attendees heard about the latest research angles towards overcoming Panama TR4 with most speakers agreeing that breeding a resistant variety would be the key.

Growers also heard from those who live with the disease on their farms, including Darwin Fruit Farm manager, Mark Smith, and MacKay Marketing brothers, Gavin and Stephen MacKay.

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