To say we need 2012/13 to be a good season is an understatement. The trees are in full bloom as I write this, and unlike last season there appears to a strong overlap of Nonpareil and pollinators making it hard to distinguish between the different varietal rows. We have had an excellent winter for chilling and despite heavy early winds we have strong flower numbers remaining on most varieties. If pollination goes to plan, fruit numbers should be back to more normal levels for both Nonpareil and most pollinators - although there are some early reports of patchy and disappointing flower numbers on Fritz and Price. With the disappointing yields over the past two years, the forecast large additions to our supply have not been realised with the increased tonnage between 2011 and 2012 being approximately 12,000 tonnes and not the 30,000 tonne increase based on the plantings analysis. The increase still represents a jump of 30% in available almond product which needs to find a home. Early sales to the domestic market in 2012 are going well, with Australian consumption for the first four months of the marketing year (March-June) running at 9.74%. Sales of Australian origin almonds are up 10.7% and imports are down 0.7%. Our exports are up 79% with strong sales into: • India • Germany • United Arab Emirates • New Zealand The major factors impacting on returns to Australian almond producers have been the high Australian dollar (currently sitting at US$1.04), and the predicted 2012 US crop of 1,000,000 tonnes, which is slightly up on the early forecast, and also slightly more than last year’s crop. Our processors are in a period of change with Almondco now having completed the purchase of Simarloo’s processing facility, and Olam well progressed in the building of their new facility at Carwarp (30km from Mildura).
Although the past two years have been challenging, industry members are seeking solutions to reduce cost, production risks and improve returns. Some of the work in progress includes identifying better spraying techniques, securing access to agricultural chemicals for carob moth and diseases, reducing processing damage to kernel, finding value add uses for hull and shell, and developing a promotional program that will continue to drive the increased consumption of Australian almonds at close to double digit growth. As the industry body, the ABA is either undertaking this work directly or assisting industry members to address these matters. The ABA has a clear focus on helping Australian almond industry members and we appreciate the support of all those who have joined as members. One of the advantages of membership is the reduced registration fee for the Annual Conference, being held at the Novotel Barossa Valley Resort, Rowland Flat, South Australia, on October 8th to 10th. The presenters include our researchers; US researcher Patrick Brown, the ‘Almond Doctor’ - David Doll US Extension Officer for Merced County, as well as presenters on processing, marketing, promotion, the carbon tax and farm credit scheme, and much more. The Welcome Reception and annual Conference Dinner sponsored by Jack Rabbit and Elders are always wonderful events. This year will see the induction of another worthy member to the Almond Hall of Fame. The surprise dinner entertainment will also be a highlight. How can something so enjoyable be tax deductible? As an ABA member or not you are welcome to join us at the Conference.
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