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Queensland AgTrends


Livestock disposals

Fruit and nuts


Sweet corn

Queensland’s agriculture, fisheries and forestry (AFF) sector is a key foundation of the Queensland economy, the Australian economy and the success of our regions. It is critical to support it to diversify, add value and grow...

Despite the challenges of COVID-19 the AFF sector has remained resilient. For 2020–21, the total value of Queensland’s primary industry commodities is forecast to be $19.02 billion. made up of:

  • $14.98 billion gross value of production (GVP)
  • $4.04 billion value-added production.

This total is 1% more than for 2019–20 and 1.6% less than the average for the past 5 years

The largest contributors, by estimated GVP, are:

  • meat products (46%)
  • horticulture (30%)
  • sugar (8%)
  • cereal products (7%).

Output volumes have grown on average by 5% per annum to date. However, looking forward a range of external factors—such as exchange rates, commodity prices and weather conditions—may affect growth.

Explore the AgTrends dashboard below to:

  • see the trends in GVP for AFF commodities in Queensland.
  • see the changes in volume-of-production for selected commodities.

We’re committed to providing accessible content for the widest possible audience, and are working to improve our offering. If you’d like more information about any of the graphics on this page, please contact us on 13 25 23.

Volume-of-production index

A volume-of-production index describes the movement in production over a period of time relative to a base period.

Total Queensland agriculture production is forecast to increase by 2.5% from 2019–20 to 2020–21, with an index of 103. This reflects the improved seasonal conditions expected for 2020–21 as the sector recovers from consecutive years of drought.

Volume increases are expected across grains, cotton and other field crops, while decreases are expected in livestock production.

Horticulture forecasts

The latest AgTrends forecasts horticulture GVP to increase by 5.9% in 2020-21 from 2019-20. This reflects:

  • a 15% increase in lifestyle horticulture following strong demand
  • a 3% increase in fruit and nuts
  • no change to vegetable GVP.

At the commodity level:

  • bananas are forecast to decrease by 10% due to damage from Severe Tropical Cyclone Niran
  • sweet corn production has been severely limited by the effects of fall army worm (16% GVP decline)
  • labour intensive commodities have in some cases reduced planting to adjust to reduced labour availability. Despite this, volumes are still strong, with marginal increases in producer prices to date.

Factors influencing fruit-and-vegetable production

A few key factors influencing Queensland fruit-and-vegetable production are:

  • labour shortages for crops that are more reliant on hand picking
  • supply of essential production inputs
  • climate factors.

Some of the key points that have influenced production and GVP estimates include:

  • Although sweet corn harvesting is highly mechanised, a 40% drop in production is expected due to fall army worm (FAW). There have also been issues identifying damaged crop at packing facilities, as the damage is hidden within the husk.
  • Tomato growers have struggled to get seed as southern growers expand production. This has shifted growers towards other varieties that are not ideal for the Queensland climate. Therefore, production and quality may decrease. Because some tomato growers also pick premium fruit by hand,  labour supply may be an issue. However, this may be mitigated by high automation in packing sheds.
  • Small growers producing zucchini, squash, eggplant and chillies may find labour hard to acquire and volume of harvest may suffer.
  • Labour supply is having a significant impact on strawberry volumes, however higher prices may partially offset the fall in volumes.
  • Mango-growing regions have been significantly impacted by heat and wind this season, resulting in lower yields.  Labour shortages are also affecting the sector.
  • The new apple crop has set well. Higher volumes are expected with slightly lower prices. Labour is also affecting the sector.

Labour supply

Labour is one of the biggest challenges facing the agriculture sector in 2021. Horticulture is particularly vulnerable due to:

  • seasonal demand fluctuations
  • high-labour intensity of production.

From the outset of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) has been working with industry and government agencies to analyse labour availability.

Our modelling, done in collaboration with industry, shows an average demand for monthly casual and contract labour for Queensland horticulture of 15,000 to 18,000 full-time equivalent positions (FTEs).

Across Queensland casual and contract seasonal labour demand in the horticulture sector varies in line with commodities grown, labour intensity and seasonality.

Several regions have high average monthly labour demand including: Cairns (driven by banana production), Moreton Bay North and the Sunshine Coast (driven by strawberry production), Lockyer Valley (a significant winter vegetable growing region), Wide Bay Burnett, Darling Downs Maranoa, Mackay Isaac Whitsunday, Outback Queensland (which includes banana production in the Tablelands), and Fitzroy.

Agribusinesses have responded to the labour shortages by offering incentives and adjusting production in line with anticipated labour availability. The highest reduction in plantings has been in labour-intensive commodities, such as berries, with data indicating reductions of 10%.

Explore our labour-demand dashboard below to:

  • understand labour demand across Queensland horticultural regions and commodities
  • understand the labour intensity of various commodities across the year


  • Note the figures contained in the dashboard are modelled estimates only, are subject to change, and are based on the best available data at the time of modelling (February 2021).

We’re committed to providing accessible content for the widest possible audience, and are working to improve our offering. If you’d like more information about any of the graphics on this page, please contact us on 13 25 23.

More information

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Last updated: 13 May 2021