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- This vegetable industry profile provides an overview of the location, structure and financial performance of Victoria's vegetable industry.
- In 2009-10, the gross value of vegetable production for human consumption in Victoria was $727.4 million.1
- Half of Victoria's vegetable production occurs in the Melbourne region.
- Victoria is the second largest vegetable producing state by value, after Queensland, with 24 per cent of the total production value.
- Victoria is the largest broccoli, asparagus and mushroom producing state.
- The Victorian vegetable industry is driven primarily by domestic markets rather than by exports.
- Victoria is the largest vegetable exporting state, contributing 31 per cent of all Australian vegetable exports.
Location of Victoria's Vegetable Production
Figure 1: Location of vegetable production in Victoria
Based on 2006 Mesh Block Boundaries
Production of vegetables sourced from the 2006 Agricultural Census.
Please note data for this map includes vegetables for human consumption.
(Excludes all other outdoor and undercover vegetables and vegetables for seed)*
Range does not include regions with no production recorded Land use based on actual activity reported in the 2006 Agricultural Census
This map was produced using coordinate system: Lat/Long GDA94
© Commonwealth of Australia, 2010
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics
Vegetable production occurs in many parts of Victoria. The region surrounding Melbourne produces half of Victoria's vegetables, with significant production also occurring in the Goulburn region (14.8%), East Gippsland (8.6%), Gippsland (7.7%), Central Highlands (6.1%) and the Mallee (5.5%).2
Where vegetables are grown depends primarily on environmental and climatic conditions, and the limitations of each crop. For example, cucurbits (e.g. pumpkin, cucumber, zucchini) are grown in northern Victoria in the summer, whereas lettuce is grown in the north in winter, the south in summer, and in some areas all year round. In recent decades, production of some crops, such as carrots and tomatoes, has moved into new areas, as growers respond to increasing competition for land and water.
Structure of the Victorian Vegetable Industry
In 2009-10, there were a total of 991 businesses in Victoria producing vegetables for human consumption. These businesses had a total area sown to vegetables of 30,890 ha, of which 25,158 ha was irrigated. Water use was greatest in the Goulburn region, where an average of 5.3 ML/ha was applied.3
20 per cent of vegetable farms in Victoria were single operator businesses, 72 per cent were partnerships and 6 per cent were companies.4 These figures include producers from other states who have established in Victoria in order to improve supply management.
Victorian Vegetable Industry Production
Figure 2: Area of Vegetable Production, Victoria, 2009-10
Potatoes were the main crop produced in Victoria in 2009-10, in terms of both area sown (7,615 ha)5 and gross value ($111.9 million). In contrast, intensive mushroom production, with a gross value of $70.8 million, was conducted on an area of just 53 ha.6 This demonstrates the different amounts of land and other inputs required to produce different vegetables.
Over the past 15 years, while being produced on less land, the value of potato production has increased. In 1993-94, the gross value of Victoria's potato production was $104 million on an area sown of 12,005 ha.7
Figure 3: Gross Value of Vegetable Production, Victoria, 2009-10
Victoria's exports and imports of vegetables
In 2010-11, Victoria was the largest exporter of vegetables from Australia with 30 per cent of all vegetable exports. Victorian exports comprised processed vegetables worth $28 million and fresh and dried vegetables worth $35 million, of which perennial vegetables, in particular asparagus, accounted for $17 million.9
Victoria exports more fresh and dried vegetables than processed vegetables. The biggest export market in 2010-11 for Victorian fresh and dried vegetables by value was Japan, at $16 million. Other key export markets for Victorian fresh and dried vegetables were Indonesia ($8 million) and Singapore ($5 million) followed by Hong Kong and the Philippines.10
Fresh and dried vegetable imports into Victoria were mainly sourced from China, the United States, New Zealand, Mexico and Argentina.
The biggest export market in 2010-11 for Victorian processed vegetables by value was New Zealand, at $21 million, declining $9 million from 2009-10, followed by the United Kingdom, Papua New Guinea, Singapore and Egypt. The high Australian dollar and competition from low-cost exporting countries contributed to the reduction in Victorian processed food exports to New Zealand. 11
Overall in 2010-11, processed vegetable exports declined by $10 million.
Processed vegetable imports into Victoria exceeded that of exports. Processed vegetable imports were mainly from New Zealand followed by Italy, China, the United States and Thailand.
Wholesale and retail prices for vegetables are mostly determined by variation in demand, although they can rise rapidly if supply is severely reduced by extreme weather events, pest attack or disease. Between September 1989 and June 2008, retail vegetable prices rose by almost 40 per cent, less than half the rate of increase measured for all food according to the consumer price index.12
The vegetable industry has acknowledged that it needs to increase consumer demand for healthy food, particularly amongst lower socio-economic groups and adolescents. Less than one in 10 adults (7.9 per cent) in 2008 met the recommended minimum daily intake for vegetables (four or more serves for those aged up to 18 years and five or more serves for those aged 19 years and over).
Figure 4: Average Retail Prices of Selected Vegetable Items, Melbourne, June Quarter
Source: ABS, Average Retail Prices of Selected Items, Eight Capital Cities
Total Factor Productivity
There is no total factor productivity information for the Victorian vegetable industry.
Employment in Victoria's vegetable industries
In August 2011, there were approximately 3,000 persons employed in the vegetable growing industry in Victoria, representing 5.2% of the state’s agricultural employment.13
Additional employment in processing, marketing and exporting makes a significant contribution to regional economies. In 2008-09, the average age of vegetable farm owners/operators in Victoria was 55.14
Financial performance indicators for vegetable farms in Victoria (2006-07 to 2008-09) are shown in Table 1. Vegetable production is highly capital intensive and, as with many other agricultural industries, subject to variable returns from one season to the next.
Table 1 – Financial performance of Victoria's vegetable farms
|Total cash receipts||910,309 (19)||654,517 (16)||1,051,105 (14)||755,900 (14)|
|Total cash costs||708,696 (20)||472,952 (14)||703,716 (13)||571,200 (14)|
|Farm cash income||201,613 (19)||181,565 (26)||347,389 (22)||184,700(20)|
|Farm business profit||85,565 (44)||79,607 (54)||223,563 (30)||80,500 (39)|
|Equity ratio||87 (4)||84 (4)||83 (4)||80 (5)|
Note: Figures in brackets are relative standard errors expressed as a percentage of the estimate provided.
Source: ABARES–BRS Australian vegetable growing farms: an economic survey, 2009–10.15
In 2009-10, the most expensive inputs for vegetable farms in Victoria were hired labour, seed, fertiliser, packing charges and materials and crop and pasture chemicals.16
Input costs per tonne of production vary considerably between different products and regions. Hard-cooked vegetables, such as potatoes and carrots are generally less expensive to grow than salad vegetables or soft-cooked vegetables such as broccoli and beans. As production systems become more mechanised there are more opportunities for gains through increased size and economies of scale.
Vegetables grown in greenhouses have a larger start-up cost, although productivity is higher.
Government Policy and Regulation Influences
The wholesale vegetable industry is regulated by the Horticulture Code of Conduct, which was introduced in May 2007. Its purpose is to improve the clarity and transparency of transactions between growers and wholesalers of fresh fruit and vegetables. The code is mandatory under the Trade Practices Act 1974 and is enforced by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
On 5 July 2011, the Department of Primary Industries' 'DPI services to horticulture producers' was launched. This document outlines the strategic context and services that DPI provides to horticultural farmers. It is available at www.dpi.vic.gov.au.
1 ABS Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced, Australia, 7503.0, 2009-10
2 ABS Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced, Australia, 7503.0, 2008-09
3 ABS Water Use on Australian Farms, 4618.0, 2009-10
4 ABARE–BRS Australian vegetable growing farms: an economic survey, 2008–09
5 ABS Agricultural Commodities, Australia, 7121.0 2009-10
6 ABS Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced, Australia, 7503.0, 2009-10
7 ABS Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced, Victoria, 7503.2, 1993-94
8 DPI Victorian Food and Fibre Export Performance 2010-11
9 DPI Victorian Food and Fibre Export Performance 2010-11
10 DPI, Victorian Food & Fibre Export Performance for 2010-11, DPI Agribusiness Group
11 DPI, Victorian Food & Fibre Export Performance for 2010-11, DPI Agribusiness Group
12 Vegetable Growers Association Victoria http://www.vgavic.org.au/marketing
13 ABARES Australian vegetable growing farms: an economic survey, 2009–10
14 ABARE–BRS Australian vegetable growing farms: an economic survey, 2008–09
15 ABARES Australian vegetable growing farms: an economic survey, 2009–10
16 ABARES Australian vegetable growing farms: an economic survey, 2009–10