Securing freight access for agricultural and fisheries exporters

A new $110 million initiative will back Australia’s agricultural and fisheries sector by helping them export their high-quality produce into key overseas markets, with return flights bringing back vital medical supplies, medicines and equipment.

In addition, around $10 million in Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) levies will also be waived for all Commonwealth fishers, ensuring they do not have to pay Commonwealth levies for the remainder of 2020.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the International Freight Assistance Mechanism would help secure freight flights into Australia’s key export markets.

“This will help restore key freight routes for our farmers until commercial capacity can be restored again,” McCormack said. “We are doing everything possible to help our high-value agricultural and fisheries exporters get their produce on airplanes and into overseas markets.

“Everything we are doing as a Government in response to this pandemic is focused on saving lives and saving livelihoods and we know our agriculture industry is key to this.”

Federal Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said the COVID-19 pandemic had led to major air freight shortages and had disrupted supply chains around the world.

“This temporary action will help Australian producers to protect the jobs of those who rely upon Australia’s export of safe, quality food into the world,” Birmingham said.

“Getting our export sector back on its feet is crucial to reduce job losses through the crisis and a critical part of the ultimate economic recovery. By getting flights off the ground, full of Australian produce, we’re supporting our farmers and fishers who have been hit hard by this crisis.”

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said this initiative would focus on high-demand agricultural and fisheries exports who have been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis.

“We’re backing our farmers by making sure they can get more of their high-quality product into overseas markets,” Littleproud said. “The more agricultural exports we can secure, the more regional jobs we can protect.”

Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries Jonno Duniam said the freight assistance and levy relief was a lifeline for Australian fishers.

“The fishing industry was one of the first hit when access to China was cut off in January, bringing many in the industry to their knees,” Assistant Minister Duniam said. “Unlocking key international markets will get thousands of fishers, divers, deckhands and processors back on the job, and the levy relief will help to keep fishers financially afloat.

“Our seafood industry has been built on the back of some of the toughest and most resilient Australians, and this assistance will ensure that the sector can build a bridge to recovery.”

The International Freight Assistance Mechanism will initially focus on the key markets of China, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and the UAE, with four key departure hubs: Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.

It will be overseen by Michael Byrne, who has been appointed as the international freight coordinator general. Byrne has international logistics experience as managing director of Australia’s two largest logistics companies Toll Holdings and Linfox plus as a non-executive director of Australia Post.

Byrne will work with Austrade to help establish arrangements with exporters, airlines, freight forwarders and industry bodies plus oversee the mechanism’s operations including advising the Government of destinations, freight selection and prioritisation.

The initiative is part of the Government’s $1 billion Relief and Recovery Fund to support regions, communities and industry sectors that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Securing freight access for agricultural and fisheries exporters

Sea cucumber fishery proving sustainable

The Western Australia Sea Cucumber fishery is the world’s first to be certified to the Marine Stewardship Council’s global standard for a well-managed and sustainable fishery.

“Congratulations to the Western Australia Sea Cucumber fishery for leading the way with this world-first certification. The vision and leadership shown in achieving this certification will inspire others to follow, representing a big win for the future of sea cucumber more broadly. The use of the MSC blue fish tick on sea cucumber products will be another big step in transforming the global sea cucumber market to a sustainable basis.” said Patrick Caleo, Asia Pacific director of the Marine Stewardship Council.

The fishery operates off the Western Australia coastline and catches two species of sea cucumber, the deep-water redfish (Actinopyga echinites) and sand fish (Holothuria scabra). Products will be harvested, processed and marketed by Tasmanian Seafoods to Singapore, the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong SAR and Taiwan Province.

“There’s a growing concern amongst consumers with sustainability and the environment. We wanted to prove that despite global concern with populations of sea cucumber, Australian sea cucumber fisheries are sustainable and well managed. Achieving MSC certification does this,” said, Mark Webster, CEO for Tasmanian Seafoods.

“Western Australia sea cucumber is hand-harvested in remote and pristine waters, so there are very few interactions with the ocean floor and none with threatened or endangered species. Due to hand harvesting, the fishery has no incidental bycatch. We believe these conditions lead to a world-leading quality product.

“We plan to work with stakeholders to achieve MSC certification for all of Australia’s sea cucumber fisheries. Once achieved, all Australian sea cucumber can be sold with the MSC blue fish tick label.”

The certified fishery was independently assessed to the 28 principles for sustainable fishing set out in the MSC Fisheries Standard by auditors, Lloyd’s Register.

“The Western Australia Sea Cucumber fishery has demonstrated healthy populations of both its species of sea cucumbers. The impact of the hand gathering fishing method on the surrounding environment and the management of the fishery all meet the required scoring levels to achieve MSC certification. We are pleased that this outcome represents a world first for MSC certified sea cucumbers and look forward to continuing to report the fishery’s progress at annual surveillance audits.” said Polly Burns, interim fisheries and aquaculture operations manager at Lloyd’s Register.

A growing need for a sustainable sea cucumber market

Over 1,400 species of sea cucumber are said to exist with at least seventy of these being commercially exploited in what is now a multi-billion-dollar trade. Nearly 80 per cent of sea cucumber exports globally are destined for Hong Kong SAR where they are then re-exported into mainland China and sold, typically as a dried product known as bêche de mer.

In some parts of the world, the high demand and price of sea cucumber have led to increasing levels of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, a thriving illegal market trade and diminishing sea cucumber populations due to overfishing. In August 2019, two species of sea cucumber were added to the CITIES Appendix II list  affording greater protection.

With China’s population continuing to grow, the country’s middle class is projected to double, from 300 million in 2018 to 600 million by 2022.

“The upward financial mobility of China’s growing middle class will likely result in increasing demand for high-end delicacies like sea cucumber. Sustainable management of wild sea cucumber fisheries, such as that demonstrated by the Western Australian Sea Cucumber fishery, are critical to meet this demand,” said Seth McCurry, MSC UK and Ireland commercial outreach manager and sea cucumber expert.

Digital streamlining to drive food export path

Australian agricultural and food producers will get an easier path into international markets with digitisation of export processes to lift their global competitiveness.

Minister for Agriculture, Bridget McKenzie, said changes to streamline and digitise export certification processes necessary to ship Australian products overseas would benefit meat, dairy, seafood, horticulture, grain, wool and other producers, boosting both profits and productivity.

“Certification of food safety is a necessary process for our agricultural exports to be accepted by importers overseas, through a process that currently focuses on paper records. In 2017-18 my department issued over 461,000 export certificates to support $48 billion in agricultural exports,” said McKenzie.

“The changes…will modernise and speed up that process, removing paper trail management, as well as improving the ability of producers to track progress through the online system.

READ MORE: Input sought on Middle East sheep exports

“The system will replace use of paper documentation wherever it is used to support, apply or be issued in relation to export certification, with the system expected to begin initial operation before mid-2020 and be fully completed within three years.

One meat exporter alone has estimated that the ability to amend export documentation online will save $120,000 a year in detained consignment costs.

By moving to a paperless system, brand Australia and the country’s reputation for ‘clean-green’ food will be further protected. A more secure system will provide  assurance of the authenticity of Australian products and brands, according to McKenzie.

“This initiative underpins Australia’s target to build agriculture to be a $100 billion sector by 2030 and our commitment to develop a streamlined, effective and efficient certification process to drive more agricultural exports to profitable markets.”


China helps Murray River Organics grow

Murray River Organics today announced that exports of its products had increased by 27 percent year to date over FY2019 for the corresponding period and anticipates this trend will continue for the rest of FY2020.

China has been a major contributor to the increase, with sales to Chinese customers more than doubling in FY2020 since the same time last year, as MRG leverages the increasing demand in China for healthy foods.

Chief executive Valentina Tripp said there is more potential for MRG to grow exports to China following MRG’s recent launch on the WeChat platform in October 2019.

“WeChat is a very powerful tool used by more than a billion users each month which enables us to communicate directly with Chinese consumers, build brand awareness and share the Australian Organic Dried Vine Fruit provenance story as the largest Dried Vine Fruit grower in Australia,” Tripp said.

READ MORE: Of seahorses, eczema and organic food

MRG has been able to increase its market share [in Asian markets] with the introduction of its new branded product range across Greater China and South East Asia, which is part of the company’s “Taking Australia to Asia” growth strategy which was launched in 2018.

With ongoing concerns about food safety in Asia MRG believes Australia’s trusted clean and green reputation is also helping it to win new contracts.

The company has also re-entered the European market with high-quality Australian sultanas now being exported into the premium baking industries across Germany and Italy.

Tripp said that global demand for organic and conventional dried fruit remains strong and growing exports has been a major focus for MRG and the industry over the last 12 months.

“We have received significant support from Dried Fruit Australia, with its chairman, CEO and key board member, who are also growers, attending trade shows in China, Japan, Vietnam and Germany. They have been a great support in building international awareness of our high quality Australian sultanas. The feedback from those trade forums was that demand for Australia’s Dried Vine Fruit will continue to accelerate.”

New Rockwell Automation regional vp looks to spread wings in Asia

Scott Wooldridge has spent most of his career in the automation space, and he knows that now more than ever, automation’s time has come. Over the past 40 years many factories have implemented automation in all its various forms. However, over that time, the main driver was saving on labour costs. And if companies didn’t automate, they took their manufacturing business where labour was not only abundant, but cheap.

And while automation hasn’t always worked – the Australian car industry being one example – the industrialised world is now entering a new phase, which is being headed by the IoT and Industry 4.0.

As the regional vice-president of Rockwell Automation, Wooldridge’s brief covers Australasia, Japan, Korea and Southeast Asia. Rockwell Automation has always been one of the big players in the Australasian market, but now it’s time for the American-based automation giant to spread it wings into the ever-increasing lucrative market to Australia’s north. This is a challenge that Wooldridge, and the company, are up for.

“When it comes to our traditional controller space – motion control, PLCs, HDMI, networking – we have large market share, particularly in Australia,” he said. “Less so in the other countries in Asia Pacific. We see huge opportunities for us in these other countries when it comes to our core business. We would be the market leader in Australia and New Zealand, but we have much different competition in Asia. There, we’ve got some home-grown Asia Pacific manufacturers like Omron, Yokogawa and Mitsubishi that have grown up in the region. However, we have differentiated offers in those markets, which is very important.

READ MORE: Rockwell Automation acquires Mestech

“Asia is a region that we are looking at working closely with and collaborating together to be able to exchange resources and best practices across those countries. Particularly on some of our newer product solutions and offerings that are emerging quickly, we can work with agility and share those areas of expertise.”

According to Wooldridge, there is a misnomer that Asia, as a whole, is an emerging market.
“You look at China, and some people call it an emerging market, but it is the second largest in the world now. It’s definitely emerged,” he said. “We do see other markets in the region – Vietnam for example – that are coming from a low base. It is quickly developing a manufacturing base.”

He thinks quality is an issue in the food and beverage industry when it comes to products from China, which has been to Australia’s advantage. He said Australia is seen as a high-quality food bowl into China and its emerged middle class has created a huge demand.
“We can see it in wine exports, for example. We can see it in the dairy products and baby powder, where they have confidence in our quality and they see Australian products as a luxury brand, which is a good thing,” he said. “That’s where we want to be positioned. We don’t want to be a mass market provider. We can tap into the top 10 per cent in China, which is still 150 million people – seven times our population and they are happy to pay a premium for a luxury brand. That is a good reputation for Australia to have.”

As well as increasing the company’s presence in Asia, Wooldridge is charged with consolidating its leadership role within Australasia. He’s sees plenty of opportunities available where Rockwell Automation can expand, especially in the IoT space. While new manufacturing and processing facilities will have automation as part of their build, it is the SMEs and companies that should refurbish that should to look at implementing the IoT products.

Some CEOs and CFOs may think of the IoT as an unnecessary capital expenditure cost. While spending is necessary, there are a couple of positive outputs they should be thinking about, said Wooldridge.

He advises against going like a bull at a gate, and replacing all the plant and machinery at once. Stakeholders should take their time when starting on the IoT journey. There are several plus sides to this. First, it allows those running the factory to see how even little implementations can save on time and other efficiencies. Second, if it is done gradually, companies can fund it via their operational budget because they are saving money on maintenance. Then, there is the scenario of, “what if you don’t implement IoT strategies?”

“We suggest having a five-year plan. Manufacturers will find it more expensive every year to keep the old equipment running,” said Wooldridge. “A lot of the time, we speak to people and they are already spending operationally on old equipment, or old automation gear they might have running, which only does a tenth of what their equipment should do. For a start, they can divert some of that maintenance spend into the new equipment, which will have less maintenance requirement because it is new.”

He is also quick to point out that a plant manager’s expectation that the new digital manufacturing solutions will start providing insights and outcomes quickly is a fair one.

“One of the overarching premises of IoT initiatives is that applications should be quick to deploy and deliver success,” he said. “There shouldn’t be a roll out of technology for technology’s sake. It should be agile technologies that you should be able to get a benefit from within three months of being installed.”

And don’t think that all older equipment needs to be replaced or is redundant, he said. Automation and IoT-enabled equipment can run in conjunction with gear already onsite.

“It is meant to run parallel with existing systems – your control system, your MES system or ERP system, traditional layer one, two, three, or four systems,” said Wooldridge. “An IoT platform should be able to pull data out of any of those systems easily, mash it together, and give you reporting and analytics quickly.”

The company works with the traditional manufacturing sectors, including oil and gas, mining and the food and beverage sectors. Wooldridge said there is good investment at the moment in adopting new technology across these segments including looking at higher levels of traditional automation.

“The reason is, if you are doing a greenfield factory, quite often we hear the term ‘lights out’,” he said. “In other words, how can we get it to the point where it is so automated that it is basically running itself? I don’t think that is practical or possible for all scenarios, but I think we can get far closer. I think if you have global competition, then you need to continue to evolve and invest in automation at a local level.”

Over the next few years, Rockwell expects to a step change in the IoT space and the process markets, such as the more traditional heavy process markets including oil, gas and chemical.

“We are making heavy investments in R&D and partnerships, and to Rockwell these markets are alike,” said Wooldridge. “Very close to automation and factory businesses. But they are new markets, so there is a lot of upside potential for us where we have a lot of customers that have historically used our equipment on a lot of the periphery of their processes – including food and beverage – but not at the core of it, particularly in the heavy industry space. We have ambition to the take the core, as well as protecting our factory and automation space and gaining growth in the IoT platforms space.”

Food regulations helps accelerate natural food colour additives sales

The global natural food colour additives market is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of more than 5 per cent during the forecast period in terms of value. With the growing awareness of the masses towards using clean label products, the usage of natural food colour additives has been gaining traction. The aversion of consumers towards the synthetic and chemical products has been evident in the recent past. The key factors affecting the natural food colour additives market are the increasing downstream demand and consumer health consciousness.

The rules and regulations regarding the chemical content limits have become stringent and have been heavily imposed by various governments. Major changes have been implemented in the global food colour additives market with the introduction of ISO 22000, designed to address food safety management systems. This will help garner significant demand for product in the forecast period.

The demand for the natural and plant derived products is creating significant opportunities for the food and beverage industry. Manufacturing companies are replacing synthetic or artificial colours with natural food colour additives. According to various health associations and organisations, the consumption of food with such additives are beneficial for health, as it fulfils a  range of nutrients demand. The long-term use of the these additives will help the consumers to sustain better food and snacking habits.

READ MORE: Five signs of a lagging food safety culture

These products refer to any substance used to impart desired colour when mixed. Natural food colour additives are either vegetable and fruit derived, or animal derived, or can be obtained from other natural sources. Multiple product offerings are available for natural food colour additives like Carotenoids, Turmeric oleoresin, Enocianina, Paprika oleoresin, Spirulina Extract, Chlorophyll, Carmine and others. The portfolio of these products is increasing day by day.

Catering to the needs of the consumers, industry players have been using natural food colour additives in beverages, milk products, baked goods, confectionery, snack and cereals, soups and sauces, meat products and others. Among beverages, natural food colour additives are used for carbonated soft drinks, energy drinks, milk drinks, juice-based drinks and others. Beverages holds a prominent share for natural food colour additives and is expected to augment the market growth during the forecast period. Use of these additives in dairy products include yogurt, ice cream, frozen dairy products, dips and spreads and cheese. Natural food colour additives in bakeries and similar institutions for making baked goods usually have a standard offering of bread, cakes,  biscuits and cookies. In terms of meat products, these additives are used to make the processed meat and poultry and seafood, aesthetically pleasing.

Due to the shifting consumer behavior toward the vegan and organic trends in United States, the companies with clean labels and organic claims have been gaining special brownie points. The FDA’s ban on PHO’s (Partially Hydrogenated Oils), the majorly used emulsifiers, has created the need for alternatives. The inclination of end use industries for natural food colour additives is due to the broad range of colours and colour stability. Research for cheaper and sustainable ways for extraction of these additives will help the end use industries with a plethora of options. The markets for these products in East Asia and South Asia are expected to have exponential growth rate in the forecast years. Albeit the icky factor that comes with carmine, a colour derived from cochineal beetles, the growth of carmine will hold a steady growth rate in this market

Australia’s Mad Mex food chain to expand into Asia

Mad Mex, Australia’s popular Fresh Mexican chain, has unveiled plans to expand internationally beginning with its first Singapore restaurant opening this week, and plans to open in Malaysia in December 2019. The expansion plans were recently announced at the Mad Mex 2019 annual conference held in Fiji.

Over the last 12 months Mad Mex’s dedicated staff served up four million burritos across 70 restaurants in Australia and New Zealand. The success of the group has spurred the new international expansion and coincides with Mad Mex’s new 2019 brand refresh and positioning, ‘Fresh Fuel For Life’, which places a renewed focus on healthy living.

Mad Mex is leading the trend in QSR dining as it continues to bridge the gap between authentic Mexican cuisine and fresh, nutritious meals at affordable prices. The group actively encourages customers to live life to the full by fueling their busy lives with healthy convenient food choices.

Singapore’s bustling Marina Bay Financial district, home to DBS and Standard Charters banks, will be the first location to experience Mad Mex’s authentic Mexican cuisine. The opening also marks the official launch of the collaboration with successful APAC restaurant group, 4Fingers, following the 2018 partnership announcement. 4Fingers and Mad Mex will leverage local market knowledge in growing both brands in Singapore, Australia, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia.

The push into Singapore and Malaysia is Mad Mex’s second international venture following its successful expansion into New Zealand in 2013, when it launched with serial hospitality entrepreneur, James Tucker. Mad Mex now has 15 restaurants in New Zealand with plans for three more openings in 2019.

The Asian expansion announcement comes as Mad Mex reveals its strong FY19 like for like sales of +6.5% and 70 consecutive weeks of sales growth in Australia making 2018/ 2019 its strongest financial year to date. Founder and CEO, Clovis Young, said “The results our team has delivered is truly remarkable and a demonstration of the passion and enthusiasm our restaurant teams have for the food and the brand. The last 12 months have been very tough for retailers, so this performance really is exceptional.”

Speaking at the Fiji conference, long time Mad Mex franchisee Sonny Khan said, “The international expansion of Mad Mex is fantastic – especially for franchisees. It takes the brand to the next level. Asia is a growth market with diverse cultures and adventurous appetites for great tastes and flavours, which is perfect for Mad Mex. There is a gap in the market for real Mexican food. We give customers complete transparency of ingredients and freedom of choice with options for vegan/ gluten-free/ vegetarian / halal – all made to order, their way. This focus on authentic Mexican flavours and healthy options, combined with the passion and values of our people, will make Mad Mex stand out in Asia just like in Australia and NZ. I am incredibly proud of Mad Mex’s expansion the other franchisees feel the same.”

“The expansion into APAC comes at an exciting time for Mad Mex: we’ve launched our Fresh Fuel for Life brand positioning which highlights our continued commitment to best-quality Mexican food, packed with the fresh and healthy ingredients to fuel our amigos’ lives and passions,” said Young. “We pride ourselves on providing real food with no nasties, and big bold authentic flavours to nourish real people on the go. Southeast Asia is in the midst of a food revolution towards healthy eating, and we believe Mad Mex’s healthy and quality positioning will resonate with local customers.”

Food and Hotel Malaysia 2019 to showcase latest food developments

The 15th Malaysian International Exhibition of Food, Drinks, Hotel, Restaurant & Foodservice Equipment, Supplies, Services and Related Technology is all set to take place from 24 to 27 September.

Also known as Food and Hotel Malaysia 2019 (FHM 2019), the event, which aims to catalyse the development of the food and hospitality industries in Malaysia, will cover 22,000 square metres of space at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre with 1500 participating brands / companies from 50 countries and 10 Country/National Pavilions. The four-day mega event is expected to draw more 28,000 trade visitors related to the food and hospitality industries from around the world, cementing the country’s position as a food and beverage hub of international repute.

Packed with conference programmes, technical seminars, educational talks, cooking demonstrations and displays of various types and ranges of produce and services FHM 2019 promises to be bigger and better, compared to preceding instalments of the show.  The trade event will leverage on key tech-driven strategies, with a keen realisation that strategic acquisitions are essential to ensure that this competitive marketplace remains current.

Participants can look forward to a myriad of opportunities for growing food and hospitality businesses while enabling industry players to stay on top of changing customer needs such as keeping in touch with the next generation of food production and understanding the ever demanding preferences of millennial consumers.

“Every edition we promise a bigger and better showcase than the one before and FHM 2019 is certainly gearing up to be quite unlike any other instalments in this series which resulted in a considerable take-up of additional hall space compared to previous shows,” said Mr Gerard Leeuwenburgh, Country GM of Informa Markets Malaysia on behalf of the organisers.

“An ideal avenue for companies targeting the Malaysian market, this is the only platform that offers participants direct access to crucial buyers from the hotel, restaurant and foodservice industries, bringing them the tools to sustain and expand their businesses. Our track record certainly speaks for itself and I am pleased to say that FHM 2019 is expected to see transactions taking place over the three days estimated to be between RM1.8 billion to RM2.2 billion – more than any other instalment in this series,” he added.

Among the new features of FHM 2019 are an Agriculture Pavilion and the highly anticipated Robotic Food Zone, alluding to the adaption of new technologies which have the demonstrated ability of increasing productivity and efficiency levels in the industry.

As in previous shows, FHM 2019 will once again be held alongside Culinaire Malaysia, where the crème-de-la-crème of Malaysia’s top chefs will compete in the “Malaysian Battle of the Chefs”. Culinaire Malaysia features over 1,500 entries and an assemblage of more than 1,000 culinary professionals, showcasing a stunning display of skills and talents in various disciplines and categories.

Also being held concurrently with FHM 2019 are the high profile In4Tec Food Innovation Conferences, which will include a plethora of conferences, among them the Food Innovation Conference 2019, Persidangan Inovasi Makanan Tempatan 2019, China-Malaysia Agri Food, Visit Malaysia 2020 & Beyond Conference, Malaysian Farm to Fork & Durian Conference, Persidangan Pengusaha Makanan 2019, Wilayah Persekutuan, Food Truck Malaysia 2019 and the Food and Beverage Entrepreneurship Skills Training. The In4Tec Food Innovation Conferences are also supported by Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based and Ministry of Federal Territories.

Other highlights which participants can look forward to at FHM 2019 are the B2B business matching sessions, a VIP Buyers hosted programme for top buyers across the ASEAN-region and live cooking demonstrations by celebrity chefs which leverages on the FHM tradition of collaborating with world-renowned chefs at previous shows.

“With its multifaceted and all-encompassing character, there will certainly be something for anyone and everyone related to the food, beverage and hospitality industries, making FHM 2019 a truly unique event in itself that is definitely not to be missed,” said Mr. Leeuwenburgh.

FHM 2019 also comes at an opportune time as the country gears up for Visit Malaysia Year 2020. In 2020 Malaysia expects to see 30 million tourist arrivals, who will spend an estimated RM100 billion. FHM 2019 therefore certainly accelerates Malaysia’s preparedness to meet these demands while promoting entrepreneurship at every level in an inclusive manner,” said Mr Leeuwenburgh.

Organised by Informa Markets, Malaysia FHM 2019 is endorsed by the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) and is supported by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia (MOTAC), Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB), Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH), and The Malaysian Food & Beverage Executives Association (MFBEA).

African Swine Fever losses to complicate the global dairy complex

The unprecedented contraction in the supply of pork from China, due to African Swine Fever, will have a spill-over impact on the global dairy sector, according to a new report from global agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank.

The report, African Swine Fever losses to complicate the global dairy complex, says with the current African Swine Fever (ASF) epidemic expected to reduce China’s pork production by up to 35 per cent, there are both positive and negative price implications for global dairy.

A resulting rise in demand for beef in China could see an increased culling of dairy cows to fill some of the gap in animal protein supply, constraining China’s milk production and putting positive longer-term pressures on global milk prices.

However, with China the world’s largest pork producer – accounting for approximately 50 per cent of global pork production – and the world’s largest market for dairy-derived animal feed, the decline in feed demand is expected to have a more immediate negative impact on farm-level milk prices in key exporting countries, the report says.

For Australia though – while the rapid pace of the ASF epidemic in China presents a risk factor for the global dairy outlook which needs to be watched –  the overall global fundamentals in the dairy market remain firm and supportive of higher milk prices in the coming season in Oceania, according to Rabobank’s Australian senior dairy analyst Michael Harvey.  And at present, the bank has not altered its view of global and local milk prices.

“A potential upside factor resulting from African Swine Fever remains the impact on Chinese milk production and whether increased imports will be required to meet Chinese dairy demand,” he said. “While another spin-off benefit for local dairy producers could be the potential for Oceania beef prices to increase on a rising tide of protein prices globally – a factor that would add to their businesses options.”

NSW to host inaugural food expo in India

Premier Gladys Berejiklian today announced a NSW Food Expo will be held annually in India to showcase NSW food and beverage exporters to one of the world’s fastest growing markets.

Berejiklian made the announcement in New Delhi overnight, alongside Indian food industry representatives, chefs and food writers.

“The inaugural NSW Food Expo will help farmers and producers showcase their clean, safe and fresh produce to Indian buyers in a market where middle class numbers are tipped to swell from 250 million to 550 million people by 2025,” Berejiklian said.

“We will take a delegation of food and beverage exporters to Mumbai in September to take part in this new Expo to promote NSW products ranging from fresh fruit and vegetables to meat, dairy and processed foods like jams, honey, pasta, and even ready meals.

“This will provide our producers with a major opportunity to showcase the fantastic quality and diversity of our State’s food and beverage industry and connect our best export companies with potential Indian buyers and growing markets.

“NSW agricultural exports to India, including vegetables, fruits, wheat, oils and much more, grew almost 200 per cent to reach $760 million in 2016-17 and there is massive potential for further growth.”

Berejiklian said NSW has a growing international reputation as a provider of clean and green produce with the State’s worldwide exports of food and beverage products growing 4.6 per cent in 2016-17 to top $5 billion for the first time.


Propak Asia 2018 taking place in June

For over 25 years, ProPak Asia —Asia’s largest trade event servicing the entire food, drink, and pharma processing and packaging supply chain will open its doors again in 2018 to welcome an estimated 1,800 exhibiting companies and over 50,000 professionals.  With increased participation and nearly 90% of the show floor sold, PKA 2018 has further expanded to include a ninth exhibition hall at the Bangkok International Trade and Exhibition Centre (BITEC).

From the positive attendee feedback regarding ProPak Asia’s “sectorized zones” – making sourcing between categories more efficient, ProPak Asia 2018 introduces its newest 9th zone “Printech Asia” which is a joint venture with The Italian Machine Manufacturer Association ACIMGA – organisers of the largest print technology trade fairs in Europe.  Printech Asia is dedicated to covering the latest in converting, package printing, and labelling technologies and services across Asia.   This new zone joins ProPak Asia’s existing eight zones which includes ProcessingTechAsia, PackagingTechAsia, DrinkTechAsia, PharmaTechAsia, Lab&TestAsia, MaterialsAsia, Coding,Marking&LabellingAsia and Coldchain,Logistics&WarehousingAsia.

In addition ProPak Asia 2018 plans to expand up on topics and displays concerning drink technology, meat processing efficiency, and a burgeoning new host of confectionary packing and processing equipment.

“We are very excited for this upcoming edition of ProPak Asia”, said Justin Pau General Manager of UBM Asia (Thailand).  “In addition to us offering the expected suite of big players in food packaging, processing, and logistics, we’re making some strong strides and partnerships to enhance the print technology, drink, meat cutting, and confectionary components for the 2018 event.”

Known as not just the largest trade show of its kind in the East, ProPak Asia is also the most international event by virtue of hosting 17 pavilions with 13 separate countries including leading producers of packaging and processing machinery from Germany, Italy, Japan and China.   In total, ProPak Asia hosts companies from over 45 countries representing an estimated 5,000 individual pieces of major packaging and processing equipment.


Aus online sales to China thriving – Tmall report

The 2017 Tmall Global Annual Consumers Report has revealed Australia has moved into third spot, on the list of importer countries into China, on Alibaba’s business-to-consumer (B2C) platform. This is up from fourth spot in 2016.

Led by strong demand from Chinese consumers for Australia’s health and nutrition supplements, baby products and milk powder, Australia ranked behind only Japan and the United States, and ahead of Germany and South Korea.

Managing Director of Alibaba Group, Australia and New Zealand Maggie Zhou said: “Since opening our ANZ headquarters in Melbourne last year, we have worked harder than ever to support the success of Australian businesses in China. These incredible results for Australian merchants demonstrate that we are succeeding in our mission to make it easier for local businesses to do business anywhere. With 515 million annual active consumers now using our China retail marketplaces the opportunity for Australian businesses remains enormous, and we are excited to be part of the China journey for even more local brands in 2018.”

The 2017 Tmall Global Annual Consumers Report was jointly published by Tmall Global and CBNData, a big data-based business research and integrated marketing communications strategy platform. Elsewhere, it found that Chinese post-millennials have become the main purchasing power for imported products, with content and emotional interaction becoming a major factor in driving consumers’ decisions when buying imported products.

The report highlighted that people born in the 1990s have now become the biggest spenders on imported products, which come from a more diverse range of countries and are consumed more frequently throughout the year.

Tmall Global sustained its position as the largest B2C e-commerce platform for imported products in China, with a market share of 27.6% in the fourth quarter of 2017. There is still significant untapped potential in this sector, with the report estimating annual growth of 20% in transaction volume and a market scale of RMB620 billion by 2019.


Minister for Agriculture heads Leadership Dialogue with India

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, David Littleproud, will lead the Australian delegation participating in the Australia India Leadership Dialogue in Delhi this month.

Littleproud said he was thrilled to have the opportunity to help expand the prosperous trade and investment relationship shared by the two nations.

“Two-way trade in goods and services with India is now worth more than $20 billion,”  Littleproud said.

“Two-way investment has risen from $3 billion in 2006 to $23.9 billion in 2016. Our growing trade and investment shows the strength of Australia’s partnership with India, which holds powerful opportunities for both nations in the future.”

During his visit Littleproud also looks forward to his first meeting with his counterpart, the Indian Hon. Minister of State, Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Ms Krishna Raj.

“Agriculture is such a vital part of our bilateral relationship, with many common interests and challenges, which we can work together on to benefit both our countries. This includes working to strengthen our agricultural trade, and constructively discussing bilateral difficulties,” Littleproud said.

Minister Littleproud said the Australia India Leadership Dialogue would help strengthen overall economic ties between the two countries, and boost cooperation across key sectors such as knowledge, health and water resources.

“The Dialogue brings together high-level delegates from both India and Australia’s government, business and civil society,” Littleproud said.

“With India already the world’s seventh largest economy and set to remain the fastest growing major economy for the foreseeable future – at around 7 per cent per annum ¬– it is vital that Australia understands the requirements for sustained Indian growth—and works to complement them.

“Countries like India and Australia—open to the world, healthy democracies with cohesive societies and strong economies—have the adaptability and global connections for international success.

“That is why we place such a high value on our relationship India: better economic cooperation will drive prosperity in both nations.”

Littleproud is leading the Australian delegation to India for the Australia India Leadership Dialogue from Sunday 21 January to Tuesday 23 January 2018.​

First Asia-Pacific EAT Forum shapes the future of food

Over 750 delegates from 30 countries congregated in Jakarta for two days at the inaugural EAT Asia-Pacific Food Forum on October 30 and 31, co-organized by the Indonesian Government and EAT Foundation. Created with the aim of facilitating cross-sectoral collaboration, the forum gathered the brightest minds from science, politics, business, civil society, farming and the culinary arts to share and uncover local, regional and global solutions to fixing the planet’s broken food system.

“We need more integrated knowledge on the links between food, planet and health,” said EAT Foundation President Gunhild A. Stordalen in her opening speech. “We need bold politicians collaborating across ministries to develop comprehensive policies linking food production and consumption. We need the private sector to create new products, services and sustainable business models. We need chefs to think up tasty dishes, making the right food irresistible, and civil society needs to hold us all accountable for our words and actions.”

“In Indonesia, we have a dilemma,” said H.E. Jusuf Kalla, the Vice President of the Republic of Indonesia, in his speech. “How can we meet basic food needs whilst also meeting housing needs and the needs of business? This is an important forum, establishing cooperation amongst stakeholders to meet food security, sustainability and quality.”

Hunger is on the rise again

Last month, the United Nations reported that after steady declines for over a decade, world hunger was one the rise again. This served as a stark reminder of the failures in today’s global food system. While 815 million people – more than one in 10 worldwide – suffer from undernutrition, one third of all food produced goes to waste. In parallel, overweight and obesity levels continue to increase, now affecting more than 2 billion children and adults.

“The economic consequences of undernutrition represent losses of gross domestic product of 10 percent annually,” said Dr. Subramaniam Sathasivam, Minister of Health of Malaysia. “Adult obesity is increasing in 190 countries and if the current trend continues, that number will rise from 1.3 billion in 2005 to 3.2 billion in 2030.”

Agriculture is the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases

How we grow, process, transport, consume and waste food is also driving our global environmental crises. The agricultural sector is the single biggest emitter of greenhouse gases and a major contributor to deforestation, species extinction, and the depletion of marine systems and fresh water resources. As hunger rises, greater pressure mounts on an already overstretched and inefficient food system, further accelerating climate change and ecological decline.

“95 percent of global trade comes from eight countries – if we have a drought in any of those eight countries it is going to affect food availability and food prices,” said Dr. Jason Clay, Senior Vice President of Markets and Food at WWF. “In the 21st century, sustainability needs to be a pre- competitive issue.”

Fixing our food system provides great opportunities

Whether in Asia-Pacific or other regions across the planet, it’s the interlinkages between these threats that define their urgent potency and paradoxically provide the greatest opportunities for action. Just as the challenges are intimately intertwined, the greatest prospects for the future lie in integrated actions across sectors, disciplines and continents.

According to the Business & Sustainable Development Commission, sustainable business models could open economic opportunities in the food and agriculture sector worth more than USD 2 trillion and increase employment with hundreds of millions of jobs by 2030.

“Our global population is expected to balloon to 9.5 billion by 2050 and will present challenges to the planet,” said CEO of Olam International Sunny Verghese. “The EAT Forum increases our sensibilities to these challenges, and presents an opportunity to combine learnings from all stakeholders to solve these challenges. EAT’s leadership is timely and needed.”

As the most populous region in the world and home to global hubs for business, science, biodiversity and innovation, the Asia-Pacific is in a position to play a decisive role in leading this urgent food transformation, helping the world achieve the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

Consumer trends driving demand for protein in Asia

According to global market intelligence agency Mintel, the share of new food launches with high protein claims across Southeast Asia grew by 8 per cent on average every year from 2012 to 2016, with Thailand leading the way as one of the standout markets for high protein food launches.

NZMP – Fonterra’s dairy ingredients business – is set to showcase its innovative SureProtein range of high-protein, clean-label dairy beverage concepts at Food Ingredients Asia (FIA) from 13 to 15 September 2017 in Bangkok.

Fonterra NZMP Ingredients General Manager for South & East Asia, Hamish Gowans, says that Asian consumers are increasingly seeking specific nutritional benefits to support their growing interest in health and active living, while demanding greater convenience to fit urban, time-poor lifestyles.

“Protein is rapidly evolving from a ‘fitness’ to a ‘health and wellness’ ingredient, as incomes rise and people become more aware of its benefits. Although protein has long been associated with body builders and elite athletes, protein-fortified food has now expanded into the mainstream,” said Gowans.

“Protein boosts and maintains muscle, helps with weight management, improves growth and development, and helps to keep people active as they age.

“Dairy in particular is an excellent source of high quality protein, and is a tremendous nutritional bundle. Protein from dairy is amongst the highest quality protein available, providing more digestible essential amino acids per gram than other protein options, such as soy.”

On display to FIA delegates will be an array of beverage solutions made with NZMP SureProteinTM ingredients, including:

  • A refreshing high protein water to support hydration and nutrition
  • Fast Milk Protein chocolate milk, a delicious high protein recovery drink which significantly increases the rate of amino acid digestion and absorption to support muscle recovery after exercise.
  • Clean label high protein dairy beverages which are free from additives and a great source of calcium and protein.
  • Barista Milk produced with Milk Protein Concentrate 4424 to provide foaming performance and sensory characteristics equal to pasteurised full fat milk.

In addition, Fonterra Research and Development Centre Nutritionist, Mindy Wigzell, will speak about dairy as nature’s ultimate source of protein on 13 and 14 September 2017, from 12-12.30pm in Seminar Room 5.

To further highlight the ‘New Zealand advantage’, delegates visiting the NZMP stand can get up close to a New Zealand dairy farm via an interactive 360° NZMP virtual reality experience. They can also explore ingredients and solutions in the NZMP virtual store that can help to grow their business.

The NZMP exhibit will be at stand X9 and will also feature some of NZMP’s unmatched consumer powders and dairy fats ingredients such as Low Lactose Whole Milk Powder, Super Fortified Skim Milk Powder and Spreadable Butter that spreads straight from the fridge.


Singapore enters food innovation partnership with South Australia

A food industry collaboration between Singapore and South Australia has been signed to improve access to clean, green produce from Down Under and boost food innovation technologies in both regions.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) will enable the South Australia Food Innovation Centre and the Singapore Food Innovation Cluster to work closely together to identify opportunities to build the capability of the food manufacturing industries in both countries.

The agreement between SPRING and Primary Industries and Regions South Australia (PIRSA) was signed during a South Australian Government food innovation business mission to Singapore this week.

SPRING is an agency under Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry that helps small and medium enterprises (SMEs) grow by assisting in financing, capability development, technology and innovation, and access to markets.

SPRING Singapore Deputy Chief Executive Dr Ted Tan said the collaboration would be across several areas including product development, commercialisation, packaging and technology.

“Singapore SMEs can access new food technologies and processing methods to accelerate the development of innovative products,” Dr Tan said.

“It will also offer a launch pad for Australian companies entering the Asia market, creating win-win partnership opportunities with our SMEs.

“We are looking forward to a fruitful partnership with PIRSA to build complementary capabilities in emerging food innovation areas, including functional foods and food waste reduction.”

PIRSA Deputy Chief Executive Prof Mehdi Doroudi said the MOU would enable South Australia and Singapore to learn from each other’s efforts in food innovation.

“Partnerships such as this MOU support the South Australian Government’s Premium Food and Wine Produced in our Clean Environment and Exported to the World economic priority,” Prof Doroudi said.

Written by Andrew Spence

Thailand is enamoured with Aussie mandarins

Demand for Australian fruit, especially mandarins, continues to increase in Thailand, on the back of targeted trade promotional campaigns like the annual ‘Australia Now! In Season’ initiative.

‘Australia Now! In Season’ is a multi-industry, multi-country integrated promotional program focused on South East Asia. It is designed to raise awareness of the advantages of quality, safe and healthy Australian horticulture products.

The program promotes Australia’s fresh fruit as it comes into season, commencing with summer fruits including grapes, then pears, apples, navels and mandarins as the season progresses.

Stuart Rees, Austrade’s Trade Commissioner for Bangkok, said imported fresh fruit, including mandarins, is enjoying rapid market growth due to increasing demand from Thailand’s retail, food service and food manufacturing sectors.

‘This is because Thailand is the region’s food manufacturing hub, catering to both domestic and international markets. It is also underpinned by changing consumer patterns and the increasing income levels of Thai consumers,’ said Rees.

‘Thai consumers also have a greater awareness of food safety issues. Australia is seen as a “clean, green and safe” supplier, offering better quality and tasting produce when compared to imported products from other countries.

‘While the Thai market is particularly receptive to Australian table grapes, summer fruit, apples and pears, mandarins, particularly the Australian Honey Murcott variety, is becoming the popular choice,’ noted Rees.

‘Australian Honey Murcott mandarins are highly regarded because of their vibrant colour, long shelf life and high sugar content with a well-balanced acidity,’ he added.

While China remains Australia’s largest market by value for mandarins in 2016, Thailand was Australia’s largest export market by trade volume. More than 7.77 tonnes of mandarins were exported, an increase of nearly 25 per cent in 2016 according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Local retailers are reporting very strong sales of Australian mandarins and are predicting growth of 40 per cent during the ‘Australia Now! In Season’ campaign, as it often coincides with key Chinese Lunar events celebrated in Thailand like The Hungry Ghost, Full Moon and Vegetarian Festivals.

During the Hungry Ghost Festival, Thai-Chinese descendants purchase mandarins – because of their golden exterior – as offerings during prayers for spirits and ancestors. While during the 10-day Vegetarian Festival, Thai-Chinese abstain from eating meat and instead purchase fresh produce, particularly mandarins, in greater volumes.

Another initiative which has helped propel interest in Australian produce was the Austrade-AusVeg Thai buyers visit to Australia from 10-17 May.

Thai buyers visited various fruit growing regions – namely Western Australia’s Perth Hills, South Australia’s Riverland, Queensland’s Emerald and Bundaberg and Victoria’s Murray and Sunraysia districts – to obtain a greater awareness of Australia’s capabilities and offerings.

Rees said these activities have collectively resulted in more leading retailers across Thailand actively seeking Australian produce to sell in their stores.

The Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) has also provided Australian exporters with a competitive advantage over other countries, as it eliminated import duties for many fresh produce items in 2015.

Australia named ‘Country of Honour’ for Hong Kong wine expo

Australian wine will take centre stage at Vinexpo Hong Kong, as Australia has been selected as the Country of Honour for the exhibition in May 2018.

Held in the wine hub of Asia, Vinexpo Hong Kong is the key trade-only wine and spirits exhibition in the Asia-Pacific region. The invite only event attracts top decision making importers, buyers and sommeliers, and provides a forum for education and trade networking.

“This is a brilliant opportunity to shine the light on the diversity and premium quality of Australian wine. Greater China is our number one and fastest growing export market, so Australia taking the title of Country of Honour will help strengthen our position in the market, and enable us to showcase the breadth of fine Australian wine to some of the most influential people in the region,” said Andreas Clark, CEO of Wine Australia.

As Country of Honour, Australia will have the privilege of hosting a range of masterclasses to immerse attendees in the broad Australian wine offering. There will also be a dedicated tasting area and educational activities being held during the exhibition.

“Vinexpo is very proud to host Australia as country of honour for the 20th anniversary of the fair in Hong Kong. The connection with Wine of Australia reflects the growing appetency of Asian consumers for Australian wines, and Vinexpo’s objective to enhance the dynamism of the Australian wine industry at the exhibition,” said Guillaume Deglise, CEO of Vinexpo.

China is Australia’s number one export market by value, having overtaken the US in September 2016. China and Hong Kong together account for 28 per cent of all Australia’s wine exports, while Asia in total accounts for 39 per cent.

At Vinexpo Hong Kong 2016 there was over 17,200 buyers from 24 countries and 1,300 exhibitors from all over the world.

Top visiting countries at the event include China (including Hong Kong), South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Vietnam. Exports of Australian wine to these six top visiting countries accounted for a combined $715 million in 2016 and have increased by 79% in value since 2014. All markets have been growing strongly over the past few years, with exports to China and Hong Kong nearly doubling in value since 2014.

Vinexpo will take place at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre from 29 – 31 May 2018 and will be followed by Wine Australia’s China Roadshow, which takes Australian winemakers around China.

Introduction to automation for Asian food manufacturers

HMPS, a leading Australian machine builder who specialise in customised end of line packaging machinery, will be exhibiting in the Australian Pavilion at Propak Asia 2017.

According to Linh Bui, Business Development Manager at HMPS, the company will be showcasing an end of line packaging machine which is perfect for food producers who are new to automation.

“The HMPS 6000 End Load Cartoner is used to package dairy snacks. The end of the line is automated, however the machine allows for manual infeed” comments Linh.

“We have found that customers have an increased need for automation while taking into consideration the human element of their business. They also need machinery with a small footprint which is adaptable to their operating environment.”

Machines and automation are able to increase productivity to a level which is just not possible with human resources. According to Bui, some companies who go for this type of automation machine find themselves in that precarious position in between growth phases. Automation is needed to take them to the next level. The HMPS 6000 End Load Cartoner, which will be on display, has the ability to pack up to 100 products per minute which translates to 25 cartons per minute. This type of automation would make a huge productivity and profit impact to any customer’s business.

Linh, who specialises in dealing with the Asian market adds that many Asian food companies are looking towards automation to manage the increased volumes of output required in the food manufacturing environment, while adhering to safety and hygienic requirements of the industry. HMPS designs customised solutions based on the customer’s requirement. There is no one size fits all and their team of engineers will develop a design around the application.

“Australia and Asia is similar in that the machines are required to do multiple functions and has to be easy to set up for various product lines. HMPS specialises in designing for this type of flexibility” comments Bui.

“We suggest automation to eliminate end-of-line labour constraints. In this instance, our recommended solution delivers an expected lifespan of at least 15 years, and the availability of local parts and servicing would minimise running costs over its life. An ROI both in labour and material savings calculated that this machine would be offset within 3-4 years in the Asian economy.”

HMPS invites interested customers to view the model on display and discuss their unique end of line packaging requirements with Linh Bui and Mark Emmett (Managing Director HMPS) who will be at Propak.

HMPS will exhibiting the HMPS 6000 End Load Cartoner on stand AM31 during Propak Asia.