The Reverse Trade Mission and Taste Australia Fresh Produce Showcase continues to be a highlight for the Australian horticulture industry. In 2019, a diverse delegation of international buyers from key export markets visited Victorian fruit and vegetable farms, met export-ready growers and learnt more about Australia’s high quality fresh produce. Shaun Lindhe reports.

As the Australian horticulture industry prepared for Hort Connections 2019, the annual AUSVEG Reverse Trade Mission (RTM) was in full swing, seeing importers, wholesalers and retailers from seven export markets in Asia visit Victoria to witness the quality of Australia’s fruit and vegetable industries.

From 20-25 June, a group of 40 delegates from Indonesia, Thailand, Taiwan, South Korea, the Philippines, Japan and Hong Kong attended the mission, which was based in Victoria to coincide with Hort Connections 2019.

Around half of the group were first-time delegates, with the other half returning for the second time, highlighting the benefits that the program offers for international produce buyers and the esteem in which the program is held across Asia.

The RTM is an annual exercise to inform international buyers about the Australian vegetable industry and highlight the quality, safety and integrity of local produce. For the first time this year other fruit and vegetable industries were formally involved in the program, providing more benefits to buyers and providing a bigger platform to demonstrate Australia’s reputation for high quality horticultural produce.

Throughout the week, delegates explored new business opportunities with potential Australian suppliers, while export-ready growers were exposed to a wider range of buyers from high prospect export markets. The mission plays an important role in the Australian vegetable industry’s efforts to boost the value of its export sector by 40 per cent, to $315 million by 2020.

The 2019 RTM is part of a strategic levy investment under the Hort Innovation Vegetable Fund and was supported by Global Victoria, the Victorian Government’s Trade Unit.

Days one and two: North-west Victoria

The RTM delegation visited seven leading vegetable and fruit farms in Victoria, stopped by Hort Connections 2019 and met with a range of export-ready fruit and vegetable growers at the Taste Australia Fresh Produce Showcase (see page 20 for more information).

The RTM commenced with a Welcome Reception hosted by AUSVEG and Global Victoria, with AUSVEG National Manager – Export Development Michael Coote and Acting Senior Trade Manager, Food and Fibre from Global Victoria Brendan Larkin welcoming delegates and highlighting the high quality of horticultural produce that will be on display during the mission.

The second day of the RTM began with the group travelling to Swan Hill and Wemen in the state’s north, with delegates visiting two of the biggest vegetable producers in the region. The first stop on the itinerary was Arahura Farms, where Sales and Marketing Manager Sean Croft and the team provided a tour of the organic farm’s facilities and discussed how the business is able to provide year-round supply of organic produce to the domestic and export markets.

The second farm in the region was Rocky Lamattina and Sons, where the group was given a tour of the site’s new state-of-the-art packing facility and taken to fields where some of company’s premium quality carrots are grown.

Arahura Farms.

Day 3: Peri-urban vegetable farm tours

Once the group returned from the state’s north, a number of vegetable farm tours a little closer to Melbourne were arranged. Kicking off the third day of the RTM was Riverside Produce, which packs vegetables for Harvest Moon, one of the country’s largest producers and exporters. During the visit, the group was provided a tour of the Werribee site’s fields and value-add packing facilities.

The next stop for the day was Fresh Select, one of Australia’s largest producers of broccoli, cauliflower, leafy vegetables and other vegetable varieties. Fresh Select CEO John Said provided an overview of the business to the buyers, as well as showcasing the product that the company has to offer buyers in their respective markets.

The final farm tour for the day was Corrigan’s Produce Farms, which supplies celery, leeks and a variety of leafy vegetables to domestic and export markets. Farm owner Deborah Corrigan provided an overview of the business and took the group on a guided tour through the field to showcase the company’s high-quality products on offer.

A showcase of Harvest Moon’s products.

Day 4: LaManna and Ky-D Pak

The next day of the RTM focused on some of the state’s biggest fruit producers. The first of two farm tours for the day was LaManna Premier Group’s (LPG) tomato glasshouse at its Lancaster Farms site.

Frank Frappa, General Manager International Sales for LPG delivered a presentation to the group outlining the breadth of the LPG business. The international buyers then toured the state-of-the-art facilities at the site and the process that the business undertakes to get tomatoes from the glasshouse to consumers.

The second tour for the group for the day was Ky-D Pak, a leading cherry and stone fruit producer based in Kyabram run by the DePasquale family. Ky-D Pak has invested in rain covers for its entire cherry production, making the company one of the largest covered cherry producers in the Southern Hemisphere.

Exploring the facilities at the LaManna Premier Group.

Positive trade outcomes

The mission received strong feedback from delegates, who appreciated the opportunity to meet growers and visit farms in key horticulture production areas of Victoria. A number of delegates indicated they expect to do significant trade as a result of their participation on the mission and would welcome the opportunity to attend similar initiatives in the future.

Find out more

Further details about AUSVEG’s export activities can be found on the AUSVEG website.

The 2019 Reverse Trade Mission is an initiative of the Vegetable Export Development Program and is funded by Hort Innovation using the vegetable research and development levy and contributions from the Australian Government. It was also supported by Global Victoria.

Project Number: VG16061