Article – Vegetable industry looks to Asia for export boost

26 March 2014
Matt Brann
ABC Rural

PHOTO: Butternut pumpkins from the Kimberley’s Ord Irrigation Scheme.

Nine per cent of vegetables produced in Australia each year are exported, but the industry is desperate to do more.
The 91 per cent of vegies left over are still way more food than the domestic market can handle.
There’s been exciting growth in some Asian markets, and last financial year, Australia exported $60 million of fresh vegies to Japan, Singapore, Malaysia and the UAE.
Hayden Moore, from AUSVEG, says those markets were mostly after carrots, onions and cabbages, but there’s also growing demand for vegies produced in northern Australia.
“There’s certainly opportunities for (Lebanese) cucumber and pumpkin,” he said.
“We’re doing some research in that space, and looking to have that information readily available for growers in northern Australia.”
Mr Moore says Asian countries are increasingly after fresh, high quality and ‘safe’ food, which Australia is well placed to deliver.
“Safe food is food that’s grown to very stringent quality assurance, which is the case in Australia for all vegetables,” he said.
“We’ve got some of the world’s highest standards for food safety and that’s what key Asian markets are looking for.
“It does add a little bit of cost to production in Australia, but it’s certainly a very important competitive advantage that Australian vegetables have over the rest of the world.”
In a recent New Zealand study on consumers in emerging markets, Chinese consumers were found to place greater attention on aspects of food production such as environmental quality, animal welfare and food safety, compared with traditional export markets.
An incredible 75 per cent of Chinese consumers indicated food safety certification as being very important in their purchasing decisions.
Mr Moore met with growers from the Darwin region recently, as part of a nationwide ‘regional roadshow’ by AUSVEG and Horticulture Australia Limited.
Courtesy of ABC Rural