Australia’s tea tree oil industry success story is a great example of what happens when producers and industry collaborate around a single vision driven by a desire to grow and expand.
Key gains include a jump from early oil yields of 100-150 kilograms per hectare to new cultivars which consistently yield 350-450 kg/ha. This increase in productivity has delivered an estimated annual $4.5 million benefit to growers and $75 million to the Australian economy over the last 17 years. Globally, Pure Australian Tea Tree Oil is an iconic product sold throughout the world and tea tree oil now generates more than $35 million a year in export sales.
Australian Tea Tree Industry Association Ltd (ATTIA) CEO, Tony Larkman praised the industry and welcomed the milestone, saying a number of contributing factors have taken the industry from strength to strength.
“The establishment of the Tea Tree Oil RD&E Plan 2018 – 2022 is a big win for industry and provides the structure needed to guide R&D investment and grow the industry,” said Mr Larkman.
“Ongoing R&D funding will ensure the industry continues to develop and tea tree oil retains its status as a key ingredient in healthcare, cosmetic, pharmaceutical, veterinary and industrial products.”
The industry success has been built on a platform of better oil quality, plantation productivity and the reliability and uniformity of planting stock from the breeding program. With product substitution and misrepresentation on the rise, consumers benefit from regulation of tea tree oil sales via an International Standard that specifies source and composition of the oil.
The burgeoning industry is the latest to join AgriFutures Australia’s levied programs, which gives producers more responsibility for ensuring ongoing funding for R&D and market expansion. Since July last year, tea tree oil producers have been contributing to R&D which will boost profitability, sustainability and productivity of the industry.