Australian almond industry sees bright future as demand grows

Posted by Isobel Drake on 17th August 2009

The Australian almond industry continues to bloom with the latest figures revealing 60 per cent growth in the value of almond exports this year.

Julie Haslett, CEO of the representative body the Almond Board of Australia (ABA), said the increase in the global demand for almonds has contributed to the growth of Australia’s horticultural exports.

“World almond consumption has been growing at an average rate of nine per cent per annum over the last 10 years,” she noted. “Assuming a reduced annual growth rate of five per cent, the world’s demand for almonds is expected to exceed available supply within three years. The Australian almond industry is getting ready for this next surge in demand.”

Currently, 60 per cent of the Australian almond crop is exported to more than 40 countries around the world, making it Australia’s third largest horticultural export – worth $120 million in 2008-2009. The ABA explained that strong export demand for Australia’s almonds had been driven by India and the Middle East, with the value of export sales to those regions having almost tripled since last year.

Domestic interest is also on the rise.

“More than 90 per cent of almonds sold in Australia today are grown and produced by Australian farmers. Australians are eating more almonds, with domestic consumption having increased by over 10 per cent in the last 12 months,” Ms Haslett said.

Australia currently produces around 3 per cent of the world’s almonds. Over the next three years, as existing plantings reach full maturity, it is forecast that Australia will surpass Spain (8 per cent) to become the world’s second largest almond producer, behind the state of California (82 per cent).

Australian almond plantings have increased from 3,750 hectares in 1999 to 27,300 hectares in 2008, making it one of Australia’s fastest growing horticulture sectors.

Production is expected to increase to 80,000 tonnes by 2015, more than doubling the current levels.

The key almond growing areas around Australia include Sunraysia in Victoria, the Riverland and Adelaide in SA and the Riverina region in NSW.