WA CITRUS market outlookCitrusFORUMDeveloping markets, changing the health message and sustainability were hot topics at the Citrus Australia Market Outlook Forum recently.Words Elbe Coetsee, WA Citrus industry development officerPaul Hardman, Nathan Hancock, Bronwyn Walsh and Greg Fraser.

A LARGE contingent of West Australians attended the Citrus Australia Market Outlook Forum in Mildura, Victoria, this year. With the theme ‘Review, Respond, Relaunch’, it looked at how Australian citrus can thrive post-Covid in a sustainable-focused new global community and reposition citrus in the domestic market.It was an engaging forum, with topics such as Australian citrus in the global market, increasing market penetration of the Australian domestic market, improving your ability to meet sustainability, international markets and supply chains, optimising Australia’s export market opportunities and avoiding poor outturns and claims in export markets.Nathan Hancock, Citrus Australia CEO, opened the forum with a review on the changes expected in the citrus industry post-Covid. We know that markets are opening again and logistics for export are improving. China, which has historically been a big importer of Australian citrus, had reduced its import volume during Covid. Together with an increase in production of the key citrus crops in Australia, this will drive the necessity to explore different export markets. Competing with other Southern Hemisphere production regions, the selling point for Australian-grown citrus will be quality over quantity.Getting quality fruit in the export market starts in the orchard, while maintaining that quality through to the market is managed in the pack shed. Strategies to avoid poor outturns and claims were discussed, including how to stop chilling injury, sanitising the pack shed and advances in zero residue postharvest.Donna Lucas of RMCG, which is an environmental and agricultural consultancy firm, discussed the basics of carbon farming: how soil type, management and the environment all play a role in how much carbon is stored. When looking at carbon emission, it is important to look at the whole cycle “from cradle to grave”, which should include from fertilisers to disposal of packaging.Joseph Ling, Daniel Ying and agent toasting the success of Australian citrus.

A quick overview of the Australian citrus production and forecast trends, based on the 2022 tree census, lead to the question: with more trees planted and coming into production, what happens to the excess fruit? Of all citrus varieties produced in Australia, 32% is exported and 29% is processed, leaving 39% of citrus in the domestic market.In planning for the future, marketing should invest in developing domestic markets, so the general public not only buys more citrus, but also returns to buy again. Especially with the cost of living, this will be a challenge we could overcome by resetting the health message around citrus. In addition to vitamin C, we need other ‘bioactives’, too. There’s more to ‘C’ in citrus.Many of the issues discussed at the forum, including export and the impact on domestic markets, growing the domestic market and addressing the carbon footprint, will be addressed under the new WA Citrus Strategic Plan for 2023–2030, which was launched in April at the Citrus Regional Forum.

FOR MORE INFORMATIONContact Elbé Coetsee at elbe.coetsee@dpird.wa.gov.au. Presentations from the Market Outlook Forum can be accessed through the Citrus Australia website. For a copy of the Strategic Plan, contact Bronwyn Walsh at industrymanager@wacitrus.com.au.