Food imports surge into Australia with imported fruit and vegetables near top

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 16th July 2012

According to the ‘Composition of Trade, Australia 2011 statistics, released by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade last week, Australian food imports increased by 4.9% in 2010-11.  Over the past 20 years, Australian food imports have increased from AU$3.9 billion to AU$10.6 in real dollars (discounting inflation) with an average annual growth rate of 5.2%.

Imports of processed fruit and vegetables between 2009-10 to 2010-11 increased by AU$119 million, dairy imports (mainly from New Zealand and some European countries such as Italy and France) rose by AU$79 million and import of bakery products rose by  AU $64 million.  However, imports of flour mill and cereal declined by AU $71 million in the same period.  A 29% increase in Australia’s trade deficit in fruit, nuts and vegetables amounted to AU$701 million in 2010-11.  The increase in the deficit was attributed to the strength of the Australian dollar and adverse weather effects on export availabilities.

New Zealand remained the major source of Australia’s food imports followed by United States, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia.  While China’s share in Australia’s total food imports was largely unchanged in 2010-11, it increased to 7.3% in 2010-11 from 3.1%  in 2000-01.

Australia’s food imports from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries grew by 28% in 2010-11. The increase was mainly contributed by the increased non-alcoholic beverage imports.

Australia’s trade deficit in seafood products rose from AU$266 million in 2009-2010 to AU$288 million in 2010-11. Australia’s seafood imports consisted of lower value products such as frozen fish fillets, canned fish and frozen prawns from countries with lower labour costs, particularly Thailand, China and Vietnam.