THE gross value of Australian horticulture is forecast to increase to $9.6 billion (in 2012–13 dollars) by 2017–18 compared with a forecast of $9 billion in 2012–13.
ABARES, the national commodity forecaster, predicted horticultural exports would increase by 8 per cent over the coming five years while imports were likely to rise at a faster rate.
The strong Aussie dollar, coupled with high production costs, were continuing to put pressure on much of the local horticulture sector, it said.
Competitiveness of export industries in global markets had been reduced while domestic producers of some fresh horticultural produce were subject to competition from imports.
In addition, the approval of a range of quarantine measures has, in the past two years, permitted imports of apples, pineapples and potatoes from certain countries.
In the medium to longer term, ABARES said ongoing economic growth in China and other developing countries, particularly in Asia, offered potential growth in export markets for fruit and vegetables.
The gross value of Australian fruit production was forecast to increase by 3pc in 2013–14 to $3.45 billion which reflected an expected production increase for the main fruit varieties - citrus, pome and bananas - as well as mangos and avocados.
Over the medium term to 2017–18, the gross value of the Australian fruit industry (excluding wine grapes) was projected to increase to around $3.6 billion (in 2012–13 dollars).
The value of fruit exports was forecast to increase by 1pc to $512 million in 2012–13 and a further 2pc in 2013–14 to $523 million.
Over the medium term Australian fruit exports were forecast to rise to around $577 million (in 2012–13 dollars) by 2017–18.
Australian apple production was forecast to increase by 7pc in 2012–13 and a further 2pc to 296,000 tonnes in 2013–14.
Banana production was forecast to increase by 11pc in 2012–13 and a further 2pc in 2013–14 to 316,000 tonnes.
ABARES forecast the gross value of Australian vegetable production would increase by 7pc in 2012–13 and a further 3pc in 2013–14 to $3.8 billion.
Toward 2017–18 the gross value of vegetable production was projected to average around $3.8 billion a year (in 2012–13 dollars).
The value of Australian vegetable exports was forecast to increase by 3pc in 2013–14 to $570 million before rising marginally to $577 million (in 2012–13 dollars) by 2017–18.
Over the medium term domestic potato production was projected to increase only marginally to around 1.3 million tonnes while tomato output was predicted to rise by 2pc in 2012–13 and a further 1pc in 2013–14 to 421,000 tonnes.
Following an increase of 13pc in 2012–13, the gross value of Australian tree nut production (almond, chestnut, hazelnut, macadamia, pecan, pistachio and walnut) was forecast to increase by 25pc in 2013–14 to around $450 million and rise to about $770 million (in 2012-13 dollars) by 2017-18.