By John Merriman for The Lead South Australia
International buyers have swooped on this season’s Australian almond crop – generating sales expected to surpass $800 million for the first time.
Australia contributes about 7 per cent of the world’s almond supply, with almost a quarter of that coming from South Australia. The majority of the global supply – about 85 per cent – comes from the state of California in the United States.
Demand for the product is being fuelled by India, Europe and the Middle East who are buying the nuts at premium prices, spurred on by uncertainty surrounding this year’s US almond crop. Extended drought conditions in California have led overseas markets to focus on the Australian almond crop – which has now sold out.
The unprecedented international interest has set records for the Australian almond industry including its first-ever monthly export of over $100 million which was recorded in July.
The rush for the almonds has catapulted the industry into the spotlight with many overseas countries needing alternative supplies to offset the uncertainty around yields in California.
Recently signed Free Trade Agreements with South Korean, Japan and China have also contributed to the increased demand.
South Australian-based Almondco processes around 85 per cent of the annual almond crop grown in Australia.
“Almonds are a very quality sensitive market,’’ AlmondCo sales and marketing manager Tim Jackson said.
“Our success is based on supply of premium quality product around the world to like-minded customers.”
Recent free trade agreements with Asia have contributed to the extra demand while the falling Australia dollar, drought conditions in California and the high quality of our product are the main reasons behind the all time high prices and demand.’’
He said there was a strong demand for almonds around the world and Australia’s profile as a nation that can produce clean, green, high quality product was quickly growing.
“International markets are now recognizing that we are a reliable source of both quality and quantity,’’ Mr Jackson said.
“Our total yields have grown from 16,000mt in 2006 to nearly 80,000mt.
“This means customers can source large volumes of almonds from Australia. We have now overtaken Spain as the second biggest almond producer in the world.’’