Article by: Hari Yellina (Orchard Tech)
The Australian almond industry is one of the most successful industries in the nation. Currently, it is on track to reach a production capacity of 160,000 tonnes. Thus, it is forecasted to reach a farmgate revenue of more than $1 billion. The nut continues to be the crop of increases. This means there are increased exports, increased consumption and of course, increased plantings.
The Almond Board of Australia’s recently released 2019/2020 Almond Insights paints a resoundingly healthy picture of the sector, with a glowing future as well. The orchard area planted to almonds increased from 45,088 hectares in 2018 to now 53,014 hectares in 2019. It is forecasted to keep increasing in the coming years. The number of almond trees planted in orchards totals more than 15.4 million. The 2019 almond production was 104,437 tonnes, the largest crop to date. Australian almond exports were worth $772 million in 2019-20.
One of the recurrent points of emphasis throughout the report is the crop’s water efficiency and “bang for the buck” in terms of profitability from water input. According to the report, 95 per cent of almond orchards are efficiently irrigated using drip systems managed by soil moisture monitoring technology. In 2019, the Victorian government has wisely amended its approval process on selling annual use limits to new irrigation developments and has called on other states to do likewise.
Australia remains the second-largest producer of almonds in the world. Australia produced 7pc of the global almond crop. The USA grows 79pc of the world production. The export volume of Australian almonds grew from 60,894 tonnes in 2018-19 to 76,556 tonnes in 2019-20. Australian almond exports to China and Hong Kong grew from 20pc of Australia’s total exports in 2018-19 to 52pc in 2019-20. The tariffs placed on the US by China as a result of their trade disagreements have accelerated exports to China from 11,860 tonnes to 39,862 tonnes, an increase of 236pc.
Almonds remained the most frequently used nut ingredient in new products launched during our 2019-20 marketing year (i.e. from March 2019 to February 2020). Annual per capita consumption of almonds in Australia is 1.13kg. Domestic sales of almonds in 2019-20 grew by 5pc over the previous year to a total of 29,508 tonnes. To put this in context, domestic almond sales five years ago were 22,033 tonnes and ten years ago were 14,322 tonnes. This means that domestic sales of almonds have grown by 106pc over 10 years during which time the Australian population has grown by 15pc.