Imported Asian Bananas Threaten Local Crops - And Farmers - And There's Worse To Come

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14th November 2008, 02:23pm - Views: 688





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Date: 14 November 2008


Imported Asian bananas threaten local crops – and farmers – 

and there’s worse to come


ISSUE: 


NEWLY APPROVED BANANA IMPORTS FROM THE PHILIPPINES WILL PUT LOCAL

PRODUCE AND JOBS AT RISK, AND OTHER AUSTRALIAN FRUITS AND VEGGIES

MAY BE NEXT


OVERVIEW:



Biosecurity Australia has approved the import of bananas from the Philippines, and 

dangerous diseases may come with them. 


Banana production is worth more than $417million to Australian farmers, and an estimated

$890.5 million at retail level, with local banana producers receiving around eight times more

for their produce than their counterparts in the Philippines. 


IMPACT: 



IBISWorld General Manager (Australia), Mr Robert Bryant, said consumers will enjoy a 35% 

discount on imported bananas, but at potentially significant cost to local livelihoods. 


“The present mark-up on farm prices is 213%, and we consume around 13.4kg of bananas

per person each year. If the farmers’ appeal against Biosecurity Australia’s decision – set

down for December 12 – is unsuccessful, we’ll see per capita consumption rise 14% to

15.3kg, but around a quarter (400 people) of banana industry jobs may be lost,” he said. 


According to IBISWorld, this decision points to a new trend towards higher imports of fruit and

vegetables, with Mr Bryant anticipating banana imports will hold 25% of the market within five

years. 



Culture Food Beverage IBISWorld 2 image

A major concern is the risks posed by diseased bananas, and whether Australian quarantine

conditions will be able to manage this. The Australian Banana Growers Council has said it will

not be feasible to prevent diseases accompanying imports, asking that the ban on imported

bananas continue. 


IBISWorld believes imported bananas will be sprayed with pesticides and fungicides both

before and after harvest to control pests and to meet the strict Australian quarantine

standards – meaning bananas from the Philippines, while cheaper, will have been exposed to

more chemicals than the local product.


“Recommended quarantine measures include limiting exports to areas from which there is a

low prevalence of pests, as well as ensuring export blocks are registered and inspected by

AQIS on a regular basis,” said Mr Bryant. 


On the flip side, Mr Bryant said a major benefit of Asian imports, besides cheaper prices at

the checkout, would be to prevent future shortages, such as the situation after Queensland’s

Cyclone Larry in 2006. 


KEY FORECAST:



According to IBISWorld, this latest development is a symptom of a broader trend. “The

drought has put pressure on domestic production levels, and climate change is constraining 

future fruit production. While Australia is relatively open to trade, we have always had high 

quarantine standards,” said Mr Bryant. 


Biosecurity Australia is also considering allowing imported apples from China and the US,

citrus fruits from the US and South Africa, stone fruit from the US, grapes from china and

mandarins from Japan and Korea. 


It is also assessing the impact of permitting the import of certain prawns, egg products,

horses, chicken meat and a raft of other animal products, indicating heightened pressure on

local producers and a greater exposure to foreign pests for the foreseeable future. 


FOR MORE INFO:



For further information on these industries, this latest development, more detailed statistics or 

comment, please contact Amity Roche/ Teresa Lane – Anne Wild & Associates Pty Ltd,

Media Relations Representatives for IBISWorld, (02) 9487 3100/ 0414 337 052 email: 

aroche@awassociates.com.au






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