The next five years will be the biggest and best for hazelnuts and ginger, which are expected to see huge increases in production. Demand, and breakthroughs in pest and disease control, are creating fresh opportunities for the two crops.
Hazelnuts were first grown in Australia more than 100 year ago but have only ever been grown on a small scale. Just 170 tonnes are harvested annually. But a recently released Agrifutures study found hazelnut production in Australia could increase 2000-3000 per cent by 2020, thanks to a household chocolate name.
Ferrero Australia, a major global processor of hazelnuts that makes popular products such as Ferrero Rocher, imports about 2000 tonnes of raw hazelnuts a year to meet local processing demands. Yet the company says there is suitable land in Australia that could be meeting that demand. This would see the Australian hazelnut industry valued at $400 million.
Agrifutures study author Lester Snare says Ferrero is concerned about the supply of fresh hazelnut kernel and the potential impact that could have on the price of hazelnuts. “Presently, approximately 70 per cent of hazelnuts are produced in Turkey,” Snare says.
“With the aim of diversifying production regions and securing constant, reliable hazelnut supply, the Ferrero group has identified Australia as a country suitable for hazelnut production.
“In 2011 a large quantity of hazelnut planting material was imported from South America, potentially forming the basis for large-scale commercial plantings in Australia.
“As the production of hazelnuts increases, the linkages with a company with an end use of the product may provide a degree of confidence to potential growers.”
The current major hazelnut production centres in the world are northern Turkey, Italy, Spain and Oregon in the US.
In 2012 three NSW trial sites were established at Yanco, Dareton and Orange, in collaboration with Agri Australis, to determine if the conditions were suitable for hazelnuts. The hazelnut trees at Yanco and Dareton were resilient to extreme summer temperatures, with continued growth and high rates of establishment, and the trees at Orange were well above local growth rates.
“Viticulturists in NSW and other states have expressed interest in replacing vine enterprises with hazelnut orchards,” Snare says. “Communities also benefit from expansion of horticulture through increased employment opportunities in regional areas.”
Australian ginger production is expected to increase 50 per cent over the next five years to 12,000 tonnes by 2021.
Agrifutures’ Talia Hardaker says improved farm management, including breakthroughs in pest and disease control, would boost production.
“A combination of favourable growing conditions and improved biosecurity and management practices have increased yield and quality and placed pressure on grower returns,” Hardaker says.
“The outlook for Australian processed ginger products such as ginger beverages is positive … globally consumers are moving towards healthy eating lifestyles and ginger is well placed to capitalise on this trend.”