Nationals Member for Cowper, Luke Hartsuyker, today welcomed news that Mid North Coast blueberries produced by Driscoll’s Australia/Oz Group Co-op are being exported into Chennai, India.
“Blueberry farmers on the Mid North Coast already supply nearly 75 per cent of Australia’s blueberries, and exports into the Indian market will generate economic growth for our local producers,” Mr Hartsuyker said.
“Oz Group is an outstanding local co-op and a strong advocate for the interests of its over 90 member growers. It is fantastic to see them taking up trade opportunities internationally and to have one of their members be the first exporter of blueberries into India.
“Chennai is a city of around 9 million people, which has the potential to become a large consumer of Mid North Coast blueberries. This means more opportunities for our local farmers to grow their businesses and reach more markets.”
In 2016, Australia exported $8.9 million worth of blueberries to almost 20 countries, including $4.4 million to Hong Kong. At industry’s request, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources successfully negotiated market access for blueberries to India in September 2015.
Mr Hartsuyker said the commencement of exports was supported by his recent trip to India in his role as Assistant Minister as part of Australia Business Week in India.
“During my visit to India, I promoted opportunities for exports of Australian agricultural products to this highly valuable and important market,” Mr Hartsuyker said.
“I am pleased that ABWI has proved beneficial for Australia’s blueberry industry, with the first Australian blueberries now available in grocery stores for Indian consumers to enjoy.
“India was our fifth-largest agricultural export market in 2016-17, with exports valued at $3.1 billion, up 475 per cent since 2011-12. Exports of blueberries will further increase the economic opportunities of blueberry farmers on the Mid North Coast,” Mr Hartsuyker said.
Mr Gurmesh Singh, Chairman of Oz Group Co-op, said that the industry has been looking to open new markets in Asia for the last couple of years.
“The Indian market has the potential to be a really big market for the Australian blueberry industry,” Mr Singh said.
“Other fruits have shown that the Indian market takes really well to new crops and we hope that within the next decade that blueberries will be a staple in the Indian diet.”
Demand for agricultural produce in India is forecast to increase by 136 per cent between 2009 and 2050, according to ABARES research. Fruit consumption is also anticipated to rise by nearly 250 per cent by 2050, with the popularity of nutrient-rich and versatile blueberries expected to significantly increase over coming years.
The first shipment of Australian blueberries was imported into India by Kovai Pazhamudir Nilayam (KPN) Group, established in 1965. KPN is one of the leading premium retailers of fruit and vegetables in southern India, serving 30,000 customers a day.
This news comes after Australia and China recently agreed to new horticulture market access priorities that will work towards future exports of Australian blueberries to China. The inclusion of blueberries on the priority list will progress after the existing access priority of mainland apples.