Australian blueberries on the rise
January 17, 2017

Minister Assisting the Deputy Prime Minister, Luke Hartsuyker, and the Assistant Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, the Hon Keith Pitt MP, today welcomed the opportunity to engage with the Australian Blueberry Growers' Association on growth opportunities for the industry – including visits to a blueberry producer and packing facility in the region.

“In my electorate of Cowper, blueberry production has grown by 30 per cent every year for the past five years—that’s a fantastic contribution to the local economy,” Minister Hartsuyker said.

“And with over 80 per cent of national production of blueberries occurring in New South Wales, I have a very strong interest in promoting opportunities for continued growth and prosperity across the national blueberry industry.

“So it was great today to see the expertise and investment of industry participants such as Costa Berries and Oz Group in improving production and supply chain capability, both here in my electorate of Cowper and across the entire industry.

“The expertise of the Australian industry has now achieved international recognition, with the election of Mr Peter McPherson as President of the International Blueberry Organization in 2016.

“I congratulate Mr McPherson on his appointment late last year and see this as due recognition of the significant contribution he continues to make to the sector both domestically and abroad.”

Minister Pitt said the Australian Blueberry Growers' Association had identified strategic market access priorities for the sector and was working collaboratively with the Australian Government to advance these objectives.

“This government successfully negotiated market access for blueberries to India in 2015 in line with those priorities and we are now engaging with key trading partners to progress other identified objectives, including access to Japan for mainland growers,” Minister Pitt said.

“Negotiating technical market access with trading partners can be a lengthy and complex process, so it is great to see an industry recognise these factors and proactively establish long term strategies for export success.

“It is equally pleasing to see an industry capitalise on existing export opportunities and I understand that the Australian blueberry industry is on target to increase the value of exports in 2016 by 50 per cent year-on-year.

“This is an excellent result for the current export season and with the Australian blueberry industry expecting to continue to increase its production I look forward to growth in exports becoming a consistent trend.”

Australian blueberries farmers are now producing 6000 tonnes of blueberries each year, with a farmgate value of $120 million.

The Bellingen Shire Courier Sun