Brendan has identified in his report that the year ahead is a challenging one for our marketers with only an additional 15,000 tonnes on 2011 available for sale this marketing year, which runs from March to February 2013. The ABA marketing program will support these efforts in both domestic and export markets. The Australian domestic market is our largest market, with total annual sales during 2011-12 reaching a new high of 16,820 tonnes. The ABA is currently preparing a 3 year marketing plan that aims to continue this steady increase in domestic market sales that saw the tonnage of almonds sold in Australia grow 8.31% in the past year. Our marketers will be aiming to nearly double export sales during this marketing year. The ABA will use the voluntary marketing levy to continue its presence at the Hofex trade fair in Asia, Gulfood in the Middle East, Anuga and Sial trade fairs in Europe, and for the first time, in Eastern Europe at World Food Moscow. The export promotion work managed by Joseph Ebbage, and undertaken in conjunction with all marketers selling overseas is important to building the demand for Australian almonds. A recent review of demand for almonds by Australian consumers has shown per capita consumption has grown over the past four years from 0.492 kg per person in 2007/08 to 0.735 kg in 2011/12. This consumption is slightly greater than the 0.708 kg per person eaten in the USA but behind the Spanish (0.965 kg) Greeks (0.989 kg) and Tunisians (1.370 kg). From an export market perspective an analysis of data on worldwide almond production and consumption shows: • The record US crop of 2011 is clearing well with shipments well up on previous years. • The Almond Board of California estimate of the upcoming 2012 US crop is 907,000 tonnes which is significantly down from last year’s. • Per capita consumption in China has increased 250% in the four year period from 2007 to 2010 • It remains at the relatively low level of 0.021 kg for each of the 1,347 million Chinese • India has a per capita consumption of 0.008 kg • Demand in the United Kingdom and Europe has also been positive, despite the global financial crisis • The recent easing of the Australian dollar has been beneficial but it still remains at historically higher levels that disadvantage returns flowing from markets The ABA is also addressing export market development matters such as import inspection issues, phytosanitary fumigants, export product inspection systems, and chemical MRL monitoring and clearance testing. The role of the ABA is to support the industry and this is being done right across the supply chain. Ross
The 2012 harvest did not go as well as I and many other of our producers had hoped, with forecast yields down by up to 20% on expected. The total crop is now estimated to be 53,000 tonnes and it is possible we may not reach this tonnage. The light crops over the past two years are a concern. The 2011 crop was forecast to be 57,000 tonnes and only yielded 37,626 tonnes, and the 2012 harvest was forecast at 67,000 tonnes is now estimated to be less than 53,000 tonnes. This has been a frustration for all. Trees appear to be out of balance and/or have not adapted to the atypical weather we have experienced since heatwave conditions in late 2009. Wet feet caused by heavy rainfall events in recent years, as well as warm temperatures and high humidity created high disease pressure during the growing season. A more tepid climate over both winter and summer has been discussed as having a possible impact on bud development. This has brought home the fact that our industry does not have the support of an experienced physiologist within the research community available to assist us. This is a shortcoming that the ABA and DPI Victoria is seeking to address. The Victorian Government recently announced funding of $8.1 million over 4 years for the almond, apple, pear and summerfruit industries, supplementing recurrent R&D expenditure. As part of the almond program a PhD student will be funded to look at the physiology of growing almonds. Another issue facing industry is The Murray Darling Basin Plan. The Plan is proposing a reduction of around twenty percent of water available for food and fibre production. The availability of water is a major risk to production and with over 8 million almond trees now in the ground our industry needs a security of supply. Recent socioeconomic studies have concluded such a reduction will have serious impacts on irrigators and local communities particularly in the Riverland, Sunraysia and MIA regions. The ABA made a number of points in submissions to the Authority, with a major point being the additional cost of securing water on the temporary transfer market during reduced allocation periods if water for the environment is purchased as buyback rather than saved by infrastructure projects. A reduction of 20% in total water availability may not sound debilitating, but it represents the major part of the tradable water from those willing to lease water in droughts rather than having to apply it to their crops. Next drought, who will have water available for lease? Production challenges appear many, and the ones facing our marketers are also significant for the new season’s crop, though less than expected is still 15,000 tonnes more than was produced last year. At least the Australian dollar is providing some respite and world prices appear to be improving, something our budgets and bank balances need.