Queensland has long been a "powerhouse" of the strawberry industry, but soon the state will also be a major player for raspberries and blueberries according to new chair of Berries Australia, Anthony Poiner.
CEO of Smart Berries, Mr Poiner has more than twelve years in the berry business and has been a key driver of blueberry production in Queensland, with the establishment of a major site in Mundubbera.
"Queensland has been a real engine for the strawberry industry in its time," Mr Poiner said.
"But what we have seen in Queensland is the full category (of berries) has really come into its own.
"We've seen particularly raspberries become really significant, in that traditional counter-season supply to southern production."
New genetics is allowing the high-chill, cool weather loving fruit to be grown in regions not previously considered.
And this means Queensland, with plenty of sunlight and strong winter growing conditions, is surging forward with berry production and blueberries are now grown as far north as the Atherton Tablelands.
"Blueberries have made their mark in Queensland, the foundation has been the north coast of NSW over the last 15 years, with production in every other state," Mr Poiner said.
"But now Queensland has surged forward, with excellent climatic conditions to grow southern highbush blueberries.
"They just need a little bit of altitude, coastal and that allows autumn production, which is a great opportunity for supply in Australia year round."
The primary focus of the berry industry has been supplying quality fruit throughout the year to the Australian market.
With that goal accomplished, Mr Poiner believes exporting could be improved.
"It presents a massive opportunity for the berry category," Mr Poiner said.
"In Australian agriculture, people are setting targets for it to be a $100 billion dollar industry with fruit and veg going to be 20 billion of that, more than double where we are, and bulk of that growth is going to come off export markets.
"As we get protocols in place for key markets like Japan, Korea, Vietnam, China, with an appetite for high quality fruit, we can more than double our industry off the back of that."
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