Australia’s second largest rural industry
The horticulture industry can be divided into two broad sectors: the production sector, which is largely involved with producing food crops, and the amenity sector, which is involved with growing plants for recreational or ornamental purposes.
Horticulture is Australia’s second largest rural production industry after wheat, with fruit and nuts comprising 52 per cent, vegetables 31 per cent and nursery/ornamental crops 17 per cent of the gross value of production (GVP). However, these should not be seen as clear-cut divisions.
The boundaries defining the two sectors tend to vary from country to country and between horticultural institutions and employers. For example, some horticulturists might view floriculture enterprises or wholesale nurseries as being in the production sector, while others would classify them as amenity industries.
Major sectors in horticulture
- Arboriculture (tree establishment and management)
- Floriculture (production of flowers, foliage and essential oils)
- Landscaping (construction and maintenance of outdoor landscapes)
- Nursery (growing, selling and/or hiring plants and related products)
- Parks and gardens (management of planted areas for leisure, recreation and conservation)
- Amenity horticulture (growing, harvesting and marketing fruit, vegetables and nuts)
- Viticulture (wine making, product development and marketing)
- Turf (establishment and management of grassed area for sports and recreation)
- Production Horticulture (produce fresh and dried fruit and vegetables for local markets, processing and exporting)
The majority of products are grown for fresh or processing outlets within Australia although horticultural exports make up approximately 13 per cent of total value of production. Australia has a competitive advantage of being relatively close to populous and developing markets in Asia, and also gains by being a counter–seasonal supplier for northern hemisphere markets.
Fruits dominate horticultural exports with oranges, table grapes and apples being the most important. Asparagus is the major vegetable exported followed by carrots and cauliflowers. Macadamias – the only Australian native plant to be commercialised as an international food crop – dominate nut exports. There are significant exports of Australian native cut flowers, especially to Japan.
The Australian wine industry has expanded dramatically over the last 15 years and now exports wines valued in excess of $2 billion.