Potatoes are the highest value horticultural crop grown for consumption in Australia. In 1996/97, the gross value of production was $489 m, or about 12% of the total value of Australian horticultural production. Four major companies process half of the total potato production, with 40% of the crop manufactured into French fries and 10% into crisps. Seed potato production is about 8% of the value of the total crop.
Major producing areas
Potatoes are produced in all States but not the Northern Territory. The main growing areas for fresh potatoes are in wet temperate coastal regions in northern Tasmania, Victoria and south-east South Australia. These areas have annual rainfall of 800-1000 mm, cool summers and relative freedom from frost (mean annual maxima of 18-20°C, minima 7-10°C). Despite the cool, wet climate, most crops are grown under irrigation. Seed potatoes are produced in Victoria, Tasmania and New South Wales, with some recent developments in Western Australia.
|Potatoes||41 080||1 286 130||448.5|
|Potatoes (seed)||4 360||107 530||40.8|
|Total||45 450||1 393 660||489.3|
Major production regions
|% of total crop area|
|North West, Tas||Wet temperate coasts||4 150||183 590||49.0||9|
|Lower South East, SA||Wet temperate coasts||2 230||84 090||29.6||5|
|West Gippsland, Vic||Wet temperate coasts||2 550||73 990||28.9||6|
|Murray Mallee, SA||Temperate slopes & plains||2 040||72 080||25.4||5|
|Manjimup, WA||Wet temperate coasts||1 470||68 240||22.3||3|
|East Central Highlands, Vic||Temperate highlands||1 840||61 120||23.9||4|
|Gippsland, Vic||Wet temperate coasts||2 070||51 650||20.2||5|
|North East, Tas||Wet temperate coasts||1 130||45 020||12.0||3|
|Lockyer Valley, Qld||Subtropical slopes & plains/ wet subtropical coast||1 730||40 590||18.4||4|
|Northern Midlands||700||28 930||7.7||2|
|Riverina||1 100||26 300||9.5||2|
Production, production trends and exports
Potato production peaked in 1997/98 at almost 1.4 million tonnes. While exports of fresh potatoes have increased, they still represent only around 3% of production for the fresh market. In the five years to 1998/99, the major export markets for potatoes were Korea, Malaysia and Singapore. However, these markets accounted for just 57% of the volume and 53% of the value of total potato exports. While not within the top three, Mauritius is also a significant export market.
While export volumes of processed potatoes are considerably less than fresh exports, their value was only slightly less at around $8 m. The three largest export markets were Malaysia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, which together accounted for 60% of the volume and value of total processed exports. Apart from some processed potato products to New Zealand, Australia holds negligible market share in any market.
AusVeg: RMB 5307, Strathbogie, Victoria 3666;
telephone: (03) 5790 5247
Production and value data sources
Horticultural Research and Development Corporation 2000, Horticultural Productivity and Sustainability Project
Australian Bureau of Statistics 1996, AgStats 1996-97
National Land and Water Resources Audit 2000, non-agricultural land mask from 1:1 000 000 Landuse in Australia
Agriculture Fisheries Forestry - Australia 1996, Agro-ecological Regions of Australia
Horticultural Research and Development Corporation, Australian Horticultural Corporation, Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics 2000, Australian Horticulture in the Global Environment
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