Expanding food horizons into China

Calling all Murraylands producers – if you haven’t factored China into your growth plans, now is the time. A rapidly urbanising population, shrinking availability of arable land and food safety issues such as the tainted baby formula scandal have pushed China to look overseas for clean green food. China is already the world’s largest online grocery market, currently valued at $53 billion.

Meanwhile its middle class is expected to swell to 265 million households within five years – around 30 times the size of the entire Australian market.This growing middle class sees international food as an affordable luxury and is willing to pay more for it, with one survey indicating a 30pc premium.

The time is right, so how can Murraylands agribusinesses leverage these opportunities?

Put the consumer first – A product that works well in the Australian market may not suit  Chinese consumers. According to a recent survey Chinese consumers prioritise the following when grocery shopping: confidence in food safety, quality, nutritional value, variety, packaging, freshness and convenience. Ask yourself what the market needs, rather than what you can produce.

Make it easy to do business – Identify your target market, translate your marketing materials and follow the quarantine rules. Sign up for a trade show or delegation that will put your products literally into the mouths of Chinese buyers. Literacy in China’s unique markets and business culture is critical. If you’re too busy, don’t know where to start or don’t have the inclination to develop those skills yourself, hire someone who does or partner with a service provider and seek support from the RDAMR.

Innovate – This is something that Murraylands producers do well – but we have plenty of competitors. To attract premium prices we need to be at the cutting edge of quality, research, reliability, efficiency and safety, and to keep finding new ways to add value to our produce.

Collaborate – Many smaller producers cannot feasibly expand to generate the scale required to service the market - collaboration by industry/region can be the answer.

RDAMR offers a number of services and programs for businesses seeking to expand into international markets, including China. For  information, contact 8535 7170.

Jo Podoliak, chief executive officer

Regional Development Australia Murraylands & Riverland

Australia China Business Council SA’s Agribusiness Committee, chair