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  • Production areas

    • The major production areas are along the Murray River Valley between Swan Hill in Victoria and Waikerie in South Australia. Further plantings are in central west Victoria and Pinnaroo, South Australia.
    • There are also a small number of growers in central NSW; southern Victoria and Western Australia but they only produce very small yields.
    • A central commercial processing facility is at Robinvale in Victoria.
    • The pistachio industry includes a mix of medium-sized and smaller operations. The bulk of the crop is produced on medium-sized orchards.

     

     

  • Current production

    • Area under production is 950 ha (2015 data).
    • Production averages 1,800 t in-shell per year (based on a two-year average 2015/16).
    • The industry has recovered from a fungal epidemic of 2011 and there are now significant new plantings being developed with plans for further orchard establishment. It is estimated that 30ha was planted in 2015, 100ha planted in 2016 with 50 to 100 ha pa in following years.

     

  • Industry potential

    • By 2016, the area under pistachio production is expected to increase to 1,100 ha. It is estimated that by 2020 pistachio production could average 3,000 t a year ($25 million).
    • Pistachios are an attractive crop because of their hardiness in drought conditions, tolerance of poor soil and water, long tree life and resistance to common orchard pests and diseases.
    • Improved orchard management and quality processing techniques have established a profitable and sustainable industry.
    • An established commercial processing and marketing facility allows growers to concentrate on pistachio production and provides a mechanism for maintaining product quality.
    • Pistachio production is fully mechanised, requiring minimal labour and ensuring international competitiveness.
    • Processing facilities have the capacity to efficiently process increased tonnage.

     

  • Markets - present and future

    • There is significant potential for increasing production in Australia to meet domestic demand. Australian consumption of pistachios is 3,500 t a year and has been increasing at 9% a year, compound, since 2000 (2015 data). About 60% of demand is currently imported.
    • The demand for pistachios is increasing globally, and in Australia, because of increased awareness of the health benefits of including 30 to 50 grams of nuts in the daily diet.
    • Pistachios are mainly consumed as a snack food, a market sector that is growing in western countries. Consumption of snack foods is also increasing in developing countries as disposable incomes increase. There is also now a rapidly increasing market for kernels in the baking and food services sectors.

     

     

  • Competitive advantages

    • The absence of any support work by the Departments of Agriculture, for more than 15 years, left a major gap in the detailed agronomy of pistachio growing under Australian conditions.  It has been necessary for PGAI/HAL sponsored and financed projects to fill the gap and to conduct what may be regarded as basic to more established industries.
    • The implications for success of these projects are significant for the existing 50 pistachio growers but of greater significance in the development of a new horticulture option for the River Murray Valley.  By improving the economic performance of existing pistachio orchards, proof of viability will be shown to other farmers for an expansion of the Australian pistachio industry.
    • In 2003 the Australian pistachio industry initiated a position, Research Field Officer, with the financial support of the Australian government through Horticulture Australia Ltd.  The program has continued through a number of projects culminating with the final project that concluded in May 2016.
    • Over that period the pistachio industry has undertaken world quality research particularly related to the Australian bred variety ‘Sirora’.”
    • Australian pistachios are harvested fresh during the northern hemisphere off-season.
    • Pistachio crops in Australia are less troubled by pests than they are overseas. Lower chemical use reduces the cost of production and Australia can exploit the clean, green image of its agriculture.
    • Pistachio farming is capital intensive, ensuring that Australia can compete with lower wage cost producers such as California and Iran, the two major suppliers of pistachios.

About Pistachios

 

Pistachio production in Australia is fully mechanised, requiring minimal labour and ensuring international competitiveness.

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