Australians are not the healthiest. A 2015 report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) cited how 90% of people had low vegetable consumption. More preferred eating fruits, but only 50% were able to meet the dietary recommendation.
The trend can change in the coming years as more learn how to eat healthily. The organic industry in the country, for example, can grow over $1 billion by 2022. Mobium Group research reveals that 60% of households buy natural products. The popularity of clean and even plant-based eating can also boost the need for a well-known Aussie fruit: citrus.
Citrus Farming in Australia
Australia is one of the world’s exporters of fresh produce, mainly fruits and vegetables. In fact, more than 75% of the production ends up in other countries such as China and Japan. While the country produces many types of fruit, it’s the citrus category that leads the list.
According to Citrus Australia, the likes of mandarin and navel oranges, grapefruit, and lemons make up more than 25,000 hectares of horticultural land. They also grow in various regions, including New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland, and Victoria. New South Wales alone can already produce over 200,000 tonnes of the fruits, comprising 40% of the production, revealed the Department of Primary Industries.
The industry also enjoys healthy profits over the last few years. Between 2012 and 2013, a tonne’s return amounted between $200 and $300. In 2018, it reached as much as $900 for the same volume of production.
In reality, Australia supplies only a small portion of citrus compared to other countries such as Spain. In big markets such as China, though, the country enjoys a favourable position. It ranks third following South Africa and the United States as its major citrus suppliers.
Their need, on the other hand, will only likely to grow soon. The 2016 data, for one, illustrated how orange consumption in the country increased to almost 6 million within the past decade.
Overcoming the Challenges
It seems citrus growers found their pot of gold these days, but they might not enjoy it for long if they don’t learn to overcome the challenges. Some of these require investing in practical technologies such as a hydraulic bin tipper.
One of the issues is labour. Most of these growers depend on seasonal workers to augment the demand. A lot of these workers are backpackers looking for in-between jobs to sustain their temporary stay in the country. The heavy working conditions, low pay, and changes to the working visa programmes can affect the supply and appeal of working in the orchards.
Another potential problem is the high demand and low supply of citrus. To cope with it, many farms are looking for fast-growing varieties. Many nurseries, however, have sold out these kinds of trees. It can then take them as long as three years before they can provide the desired citrus plantings.
Using technologies such as bin tippers do not resolve these complex issues. They are valuable in increasing productivity and efficiency to compensate for the shortage of labour. They can assist without increasing labour and production costs. In turn, growers can maximise their returns on every fruit they produce while waiting for faster-growing varieties to become available.