THE Australian garlic industry can provide product all year round, which is good news with consumption currently outstripping supply.
Attendees at the Australian Garlic Industry Association (AGIA) Seminar 2017 heard the optimistic outlook in an event that spanned three days at the Thurgoona Country Club, Albury, NSW last week.
In a change from the usual conference format, the first day of the conference was given over to a "New Growers Workshop" where first time growers and those interested in the industry could learn the basics of the crop and collect information on the industry.
The idea was based on feedback from last year's conference.
AGIA deputy chairman, Bruce Anchow, said the initiative was positive.
"It was well received and well represented and it was something that we felt was very, very worthwhile - introducing the basic notions of how do you start and what are some of the challenges you might find as growers," Mr Anchow said.
He delivered the welcome address in place of chairman, Leon Trembath, who was unable to attend.
Mr Anchow introduced the AGIA board members to the audience and invited delegates to make themselves known to their representatives.
An industry update provided hope for the growers for the future of their industry.
"It's well recognised that the consumption of garlic in Australia is not in any way being met by the production of garlic in Australia," Mr Anchow said.
"That represents an enormous opportunity for us as growers and industry participants to bridge that gap and meet the consumer demand for Australian garlic all year round.
"The future of Australian garlic and Australian processed garlic is bright. There is lots of work to do; there is lots of opportunity out there; enjoy the journey."
The industry has adopted the Australian Garlic Industry Strategic Plan for 2015 to 2019.
Part of that plan includes the monitoring of garlic markets to better understand opportunities.
"We recognised that the major supermarkets in Australia are responding to consumer-driven demand to see more garlic produced in Australia," Mr Anchow said.
"We recognised that that needs to come from larger garlic growers but not in any way forgetting or ignoring the importance of the smaller garlic grower, producers, which keep that demand for Australian garlic in front of consumers."
Mr Anchow said the challenge for the board was providing adequate representation for all growers, regardless of size, something it was continually working on.
He pointed out some of the garlic promotion and marketing that took place in the past 12 months including declaring February as "garlic month".
The AGIA also supplied charts and information to growers and supply chain partners regarding growing seasons, varieties, sizes and other key data.
"This leads us directly into being able to demonstrate in reality that fresh Australian garlic can be produced and supplied into Australian markets year-round," Mr Anchow said.
"The notion is not a thought bubble any more. It is a reality and it simply needs to be applied across the growing groups."
He added that the AGIA website was undergoing further improvement with the hopes of a new site to be up and running by December.
The site is set to be not only a consumer-friendly information point on garlic but also a library for technical documents, seminar notes, pests and weed information and other resources.
Mr Anchow said there was also hope of creating an industry code of practice and possibly an Australian alliums alliance down the track.