Article – Australia should aim to be the 'delicatessen' of Asia

9 April 2014
Carl Curtain and Matt Brann
Radio Australia

Australia should forget about becoming the food bowl of Asia and focus on becoming its delicatessen.

It’s a message being delivered to the northern agricultural sector by business experts, as the general wealth in Asia increases significantly.
Several speakers at the recent Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association (NTCA) conference outlined the need for Australian industries to focus on producing high-quality export products and market them strongly.
NTCA president David Warriner says the farm gate price for beef needs to lift dramatically for the northern cattle industry to remain viable.
He says the grass-fed sector needs to start making around $3 per kilogram live-weight and it’s the growing number of millionaires in Asia who can make it happen.
“There are probably 35 million millionaires in China,” he said.
“We need to find those segments within segments, within segments, within markets.
“We need to drive exporters to get us prices that are covering our costs.”
Rabobank Australia CEO Thos Gieskes agrees that Australia should focus on producing high-quality products for the high-end Asian market.
He says producers need to differentiate themselves from the competition and the northern cattle industry can do it, because it’s got a good story to tell.
“It has a whole story around it which makes it unique in the world, which also sometimes gives it a higher cost structure.
“By focussing on value, assuming there’s enough volume anyway, we can attract maximum value from what we do here,” he said.
“We should promote the brand… northern beef, and really promote that with the story of why we believe that it’s actually much better than any other beef.”
One of the other guest speakers at the recent NTCA conference was Kimberley farmer Rob Boshammer.
He’s had great success in growing chia in the Ord Irrigation Scheme.
He says he’s found opportunities by targeting specific markets.
“When agriculture in Australia gets tough, the options are to get out, get larger, get efficient, cut corners… or we can specialise,” he said.

Courtesy of Radio Australia