Citrus juice forum a success

Citrus Australia’s inaugural juice forum was attended by over 120 delegates from across Australia, including a fantastic turn out of local growers.

The forum heard speakers discussing opportunities for developing the not-for-concentrate market in Australia, providing a strong signal to growers that processors demand for their fruit was strong and expected to grow over the next 10 years.

“Whilst parts of the juice category in Australia are trending down, fresh and chilled juice is growing in popularity as discerning customers look for product that meets their needs – clean labels – meaning minimal ingredients on the contents panel of the label”, said Citrus Australia’s CEO Nathan Hancock.

Nathan said growers were looking for strong signals that this resurgence in demand from processors for juice oranges wasn’t a flash in the pan.

“If a grower goes out today from this event and decides to plant more Valencias, it will be 8 years roughly before they see a harvest and an even longer until they see profit, so they need to have confidence that it’s a worthwhile investment to make”, said Nathan.

Griffith citrus grower and Riverina Advisory Council (RAC) Chair, Michael Johns, said he enjoyed listening to speakers talk about the trends and opportunities in markets like China.

“Chinese consumption of non-concentrate juice is increasing, and I think the need for a healthier product is driving the industry now,” Michael said.

“Juice varieties are our number one product so I’m absolutely keeping an eye on this space. The speakers were very informative and it’s great to see more positivity surrounding juice varieties and the direction that our citrus juice industry is moving in.”

Nathan added that “the most likely way to see sustainable long term profitable growth in the juice industry is to begin developing export markets – leveraging new technologies we’ve heard about today and the providence message that comes with being an Australian product.”