The Australian vegetable industry demonstrates an interest in exporting greater quantities of vegetables especially to Asian and Middle Eastern markets. To do this, the industry needs to have a better understanding of what attributes are required to succeed and place Australian produce at an advantage in these export markets.
A benchmarking study was carried out by the independent company Euromonitor International over the course of 16 weeks, from 28 March, 2014 to 21 July, 2014. Throughout the course of the research, a comprehensive inquiry was conducted across five representative markets ā€“ China, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) ā€“ into local consumer behaviour and preferences via extensive consumer surveys and in-store interview exercises. These were followed by trade interviews with major local industry stakeholders to study an optimal route-to-market distribution strategy as well as import criteria of local importers and distributors. Product placement and promotional activities were also studied through store audits conducted in pertinent retail channels.
Through a top-line review of the regionsā€™ self-sufficiency towards locally produced vegetables, imports are still demanded due to limited or inadequate local supplies in most markets, with the exception of China. When it comes to the retailing of vegetables, modern trade dominates due to convenience in the more developed countries, while traditional wet/ open markets still appeal to those living in developing markets. A deeper dive via the consumer surveys revealed that consumers are willing to pay up to 20% more for quality vegetables, and prioritise freshness, nutritional value and packaging over price. Consistently across all researched markets, Australian imports attained a strong, positive brand image, and the country should leverage on the quality of specific produce while improving on price and freshness.
Australian growers and exporters are encouraged to focus on branding their produce and providing added value to consumers. Tactical recommendations such as enhancing packaging for modern trade retailers, in-store promotions and sampling, ready-to-cook packages, etc. can create avenues for better penetration into these regions, as consumers turn to convenience while still seeking fresh, nutritional and safe vegetables for their families.