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Almonds top horticulture exports

ALMONDS have emerged as Australia’s most valuable horticultural export for 2014-15, with annual export sales of $422 million, an increase of 14 per cent on the previous year.

That’s according to the Almond Board of Australia which has just released its Almond Insights report.

Sales for the first six months were up 54pc but a lack of almonds in the later months stifled sales.

Over the past five years, export sales have increased a whopping 246pc, and it appears growth will continue.

In 2015-16, export sales will reach $600 million, largely due to the 2015 crop being 10,000 tonnes larger than that of 2014.

The industry’s sales on the domestic market increased 6pc during the marketing year from March to February, and totaled 22,033 tonnes.

Over the past five years, domestic sales have increased 55pc.

In 2015, the almond industry will become Australia’s most valuable single commodity horticultural industry, generating around 10pc of Australian horticulture’s gross value of production.

The profitability of the industry is prompting a further period of major orchard expansion.

Since 2001 the total area planted to almonds has increased from 5244 hectares to 28,967 hectares in 2014.

Fifty countries now buy Australian almonds, with India being Australia’s largest overseas market.

Spain and the United States were also large markets for Australian almonds in 2014-15 and sales to the United Arab Emirates increased substantially.

Responding to the latest statistics, federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said the bumper almond crop was great news for Australian growers, exporters and the horticultural industry as a whole.

“The latest USDA data also highlights that global demand for almonds remains strong, with total world consumption for shelled almonds now over one million tonnes per annum with two-thirds of this supplied through trade,” Mr Joyce said in a statement.

“The growth in this industry means we can expect to continue to see the expansion of orchards across the country, which will mean more jobs, more export sales, and increased farmgate returns for growers in this valuable industry.”