Berries now the cream of the crops

TASMANIA was once the Apple Isle, but now it is berries that are big business.

The latest Tasmanian Agri Food Score Card report for 2020-2021 shows production across the state’s berry industry grew by 45 per cent.

The industry’s gross farmgate value also increased by 63 per cent to $209 million, making it the state’s most valuable fruit industry, ahead of apples at $75 million and cherries which are worth $73 million.

Raspberries and blackberries are the industry’s most valuable categories accounting for 58.8 per cent of the berry industry’s value.

However, strawberries are the biggest crop making up 56.1 per cent of fruit volume.

At over $400 million, fruit is now Tasmania’s third largest industry behind livestock and dairy, edging ahead of vegetables which also experienced impressive growth of 13 per cent in the year.

Fruit Growers Tasmania chief executive officer Peter Cornish said the fruit industry now represents one fifth of Tasmania’s total farm gate value.

“Despite the challenges of a global pandemic, our fruit industry continued to show amazing production growth in the 2020-21 year, as orchard expansion and infrastructure investment literally bore fruit,” he said.

“Our production technology systems are some of the best in the world.”

Tasmania is already Australia’s largest producer of raspberries and blackberries, the second largest producer of blueberries and exports more cherries than other states combined.

“Our fruit industry will employ over 10,000 people in the coming season as our growers reinvest in regional areas across Tasmania,” Mr Cornish said.

The Tasmanian berry sector had an outstanding year in 2020-2021, and was the strongest growing sector across all of Tasmanian agriculture.

“Berries at $209 million are now the biggest crop grown in Tasmania, taking over from potatoes,” Mr Cornish said.

“They also now have a greater farm gate value than the state’s lamb and mutton sector.”

Tasmania’s horticulture industries all showed strong growth in 2020-2021, with the value of wine grapes growing 21 per cent and nut production jumping by 77 per cent.