The Australian Culinary Herb and Spice Industry can be described as a maturing industry. Its peak industry body, AHSIA (The Australian Herb & Spice Industry Association Ltd), has been set up to coordinate research and development needs and to provide a strong representative voice for the industry.
Consumption of herbs and spices continues to grow in Australia in line with global trends, fuelled by changes to traditional eating patterns and a return to healthier eating habits in developed countries. Innovative marketing, packaging and processing have also assisted in extending the knowledge and consumption of herbs and spices to a much larger percentage of the population.
The industry has a domestic farmgate value currently estimated at $62 million and a fresh market retail sales section which continues to grow at 20% per annum.
To maintain its growth, however, the Australian herb
Bulk harvesting herbs and spice industry has to export. Considerable processing and marketing expertise has been developed in Australia, which is of world-class standard. This puts Australia in an excellent position to take advantage of burgeoning overseas markets, and several new and innovative processors have entered the market to take advantage of this. The export industry is projected to grow at 100% per annum for the next five years, giving an export farm-gate value of $100 million by 2009. Australian businesses wishing to export must have sound, well-managed, quality controlled, cost-effective enterprises that are competitive with major processing countries such as Germany, France, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The biggest challenge to exports, and to increasing domestic productivity, is the lack of sustainable integrated pest management strategies (including minor use permits for herbs and spices), the poor quality and supply of Australian seed and rootstock and, with a small percentage of growers, a limited knowledge and acceptance of the stringent quality requirements of supermarket chains, processors and consumers.
There is considerable opportunity for organically grown product,
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