Sweeter season ahead for custard apple growers?

By Hari Yellina

Custard apples, also known as sugar-apples and sweetsop, are native to the tropical Americas and West Indies but Australia has the world’s largest breeding program. In Australia, the majority of custard apples are produced in Queensland and also northern New South Wales. The exports and imports value of these custard apples are negligible. The unique variant of the custard apple that is grown in Australia is known as an atemoya.

But still a mere 6% of Australian households purchased custard apples as a part of their grocery trip. This amounts to an average of 285 grams per grocery haul. The wholesale of this fruit amounted to $7.7 million. Out of this amount $6.4 million was distributed into retail and $1.3 million has gone into food service.

Predominantly, custard apples are grown along the eastern coast of Australia. This area pans from Queensland to northern New South Wales. Moreover, some of the major production areas include Atherton, Lismore in northern New South Wales and the Sunshine Coast of Queensland.

As of June 2019, 1,836 tonnes of this fruit was produced and valued at $6.9 million. The supply per capita was estimated at 69 grams, based on the volume that was supplied.

This year’s crop though is expected to set a record, thanks to new farmers entering the industry. There are currently around 130-150 custard apple growers listed in Australia.

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