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Thursday, 8 March 1984
Page: 639

Senator ARCHER(4.03) —The Australian Dried Fruits Corporation annual report for 1982-83 shows clearly that there is presently a world oversupply of approximately 145,000 tonnes a year and that this is now virtually fostered by the European Economic Community, which is supporting the overproduction, particularly in Greece. The Australian industry is still working hard to improve its quality, to develop new varieties and new markets, to rationalise costs, and to upgrade the various methods of production involved. At the same time, it is trying to advance its markets in South East Asia, where there is some potential, although the best market still seems to be in Australia. Australian sales of dried fruits, have increased from about 13,500 tonnes in 1975 to over 22,000 tonnes in 1980 and last year sales were up to 31,000 tonnes. Approximately 35 per cent of the total production is consumed locally and the balance, 65 per cent, is exported.

In 1983-84 about $350,000 is to go to dried fruit research. At this stage we can only hope that that sort of expenditure will show results while there is still an industry. Judging by the way in which the industry is going, I am not sure that the expenditure of $350,000 will be of value. Some very positive action will have to be taken and government will need to become really involved. The industry will have to come up with solid propositions and constant watching of the overseas market will be required. I believe that we are not doing enough at present to see that this happens. I see the dried fruits industry as a very vital small industry and I believe that Australians generally want to see it maintained. I think it needs far greater recognition in the future.

Question resolved in the affirmative.