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Australian berry volumes grow amid labour shortage concerns

Photo supplied by Berries Australia
Photo supplied by Berries Australia.

Despite the challenges following the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly the horticulture labour shortage, Australia's peak berry industry body says there were no decreases in volumes across the different commodities.

Berries Australia Executive Director Rachel Mackenzie says that compared to the last year, for the quarter ending January 24, blackberries were up 70 per cent, strawberries up 13 per cent, blueberries 12 per cent, although raspberries remained steady.

"Overall demand has been relatively constant but we are getting some mixed signals out of the marketplace in recent weeks," she said. "Consumer demand has remained steady across the summer with a positive post-Christmas trading environment. While volume price dynamics remain in line with historical data." But Ms Mackenzie admits that there are some challenges for the industry moving forward, mostly caused by the Australian borders, which have been closed to international visitors for almost a year since the pandemic hit.

"The upcoming season is looking challenging across all berries due to the severe labour shortage," she said. "Weather conditions have been fine but if there is no-one to pick the fruit then it doesn’t matter how good it is. We are calling on all levels of government to put in place meaningful solutions to the labour crisis which is being played out across the world."

Author: Matt Russell

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