EXPORT EXPANSION: Ironbark Citrus from Mundubbera is one of many North Burnett citrus companies which exports to markets in Asia.
EXPORT EXPANSION: Ironbark Citrus from Mundubbera is one of many North Burnett citrus companies which exports to markets in Asia.

Region contributes to citrus exports’ record year

THE CEO of Citrus Australia has told North Burnett fruitgrowers that their citrus exports, mandarins especially, have played a big role in making 2019 a record-breaking year for the industry.

Speaking at the Queensland Post-Season Regional Forum in Mundubbera yesterday, Nathan Hancock said the value of citrus exports for the period January – September was $456 million.

“We are inching ever closer to that $500 million mark, which we thought was probably something (we wouldn’t) see for a number of years,” he said.

“It’s pretty tough (growing) conditions, we thought we may have a smaller export season this year.”

With 241,000 tonnes exported up to September, Mr Hancock said it is likely that citrus exports this year will break the record of 263,000 tonnes, set in 2017.

With growth in orange exports static, Mr Hancock said it was the “big growth” in mandarin exports, up 47 per cent, which “made quite a significant impact overall”.

The destination for Australian citrus which saw some of the most drastic growth was Thailand, which increased by 71 per cent against Citrus Australia’s expectations.

This was offset by a stagnation in exports to the United States, a trend the industry body is keen to reverse.

Mr Hancock said, with relationships between Australia and China tense, citrus exporters needed to “expand their footprint into China’s second- and third-tier cities”.

However, the organisation is optimistic they have “cracked the code” of China Customs and won’t see the sort of delays plaguing other exports such as dairy and beef.

Citrus Australia is also eagerly awaiting the outcome of the mooted free trade agreement with Indonesia, which they hope will be in place by the end of next year.

As exports take off, Mr Hancock reiterated Citrus Australia’s concerns with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries proposed fees and charges for export certification for the next four years.

The proposal is to move to a “cost-reflective” model, meaning exporters will foot a larger bill.

“We understand it has to be cost recovery but our main gripe is, what’s driving the costs that are increasing?” he said.

“We point finger squarely at the amount of auditing they do and the number of documents and procedures they’re putting in place that then they need to maintain, update and audit.”


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