Tablelands potato farmer David Nix has spent years trying to export his gourmet potatoes to Asia, but the idea never got off the ground. Mr Nix, who has been growing potatoes on his 280 hectare property 10km from Atherton with wife Carol for 50 years, said they had travelled to Malaysia and Singapore about five years ago to try to strike an export deal.
“We were looking to air freight Kipflers to Singapore, but they didn't really know what a Kipfler was and were not prepared to spend the money," Mr Nix said. "It never got off the ground unfortunately, we were priced out of the market."
Mr Nix welcomed a report released by Advance Cairns and the CRCNA last week, which has identified what is needed to grow international agricultural export opportunities from Cairns Airport. The report highlights the potential for agricultural exports including fruit, vegetables and beef, to double in value to $120 million over the next ten years.
Mr Nix and his associates grow about 1000 tonnes of Kipfler and Dutch cream potatoes annually, which are provided to southern markets. His Kipfler potatoes are sold in markets in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, while the Dutch cream/Nicolas are supplied to a processor in Brisbane who puts out Lite 'n Easy food.
Mr Nix said there were only about six growers left on the Tablelands who provided to fresh markets, where there used to be 150. There are several large operators in the region who provide to the processors, producing about 10,000 to 15,000 tonnes per year.