AU: Victorian growers’ market access to Asia at all-time high

Victorian growers’ access to Asian fresh produce markets has never been greater, as a flurry of airlines introduce new flights into the world’s most populous continent.

Total airfreight capacity for January next year is predicted to be up 12 per cent compared with the same time this year, and up 22 per cent on January last year, according to Air Freight Statistics.

Melbourne Airport aviation chief executive Simon Gandy said the increased export capacity to Asia followed “unprecedented growth” at Tullamarine this year.

He said some airlines had begun services from Melbourne for the first time, and existing carriers were offering new flights to China and South East Asia, “which enables thousands more tonnes of cargo to travel in the belly holds of aircraft”.

“In addition, new lightweight, wide-bodied aircraft such as the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 have brought new freight capacity into markets like Singapore and Vietnam, providing exporters with even more opportunity to transport high volumes of fruit, vegetables and meats into Asian hubs,” Mr Gandy said.

In 2016-17, three Chinese airlines — XiamenAir, Beijing Capital Airlines and Hainan Airlines — began servicing Melbourne.

Qantas launched a new flight to Tokyo, Virgin Australia to Hong Kong and Jetstar to Ho Chi Minh City and Zhengzhou, with the latter to begin in December.

Figures from consulting service Air Fright Statistics show agriculture accounts for about 80 per cent of all airfreight out of Melbourne, with fresh fruit — mostly cherries, table grapes and stone fruit — and vegetables, fresh and frozen meat and seafood accounting for the bulk of the volume.

Tim Jones, a director of one of Australia’s largest premium cherry growers, Wandin Valley Farms, said the extra airfreight capacity was welcome news ahead of what was shaping as a strong cherry season.

It would also allow Victorian and Tasmanian cherry producers to take advantage of renewed access to the Vietnamese market, Mr Jones said.

“This is great news for us. Vietnam used to be a big market for us before it was closed three years ago,” he said.

“Together with other growers we pack for, we expect to process close to 2000 tonnes this harvest,” he said. “And quality permitting, we’d expert to export at least 35 per cent of packed volume.”

About 130,000 tonnes, or 1300 B474 freighters worth, of mostly Victorian and some Tasmanian produce left Tullamarine bound for international markets in the year to June 30.

More than 45 per cent was fresh fruit and vegetables, including table grapes, cherries, asparagus and peaches.

About 60 per cent of all airfreight exports left Melbourne destined for Asian markets.

Meanwhile, Victoria is Australia’s largest supplier of food and fibre products to China, according to Trade Victoria, partly due to the removal of major export barriers since the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement took force in 2015.


Publication date: 10/6/2017

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