Reverse Trade Mission
As the first Reverse Trade Mission of its kind organised by the Australian vegetable industry, relationship building and developing close ties with a range of key vegetable industry stakeholders from Asia were key components of the Mission. AUSVEG therefore developed the program content of the RTM following consultation with a variety of organisations from both government and industry. The RTM delegation included a total of 20 participants, which comprised ten delegates from Hong Kong (including one delegate from Taiwan and one from Macau respectively); six delegates from Japan; and four delegates from Malaysia. Delegates represented different areas of the vegetable supply chain from each of these countries, including the hospitality (e.g. hotels and restaurants) and retail (e.g. supermarkets) sectors, as well as providores, fresh produce distributors and importers. Formal invitations for delegate positions in the RTM were distributed through a number of local and overseas government organisations, including the Victorian Department of Business Innovation (Victorian Business Government Offices) and their overseas offices, Trade and Investment Queensland, the Malaysian High Commission, and other local and foreign agencies. The RTM was designed to establish direct channels of communication between Australian growers and overseas buyers, specifically in Asia. The Mission provided delegates with the opportunity to meet with Australian vegetable growers directly, build relationships, experience the quality of Australian farming operations and their produce, and to gain a better understanding of Australian and Asian consumer trends and preferences. The RTM also aimed to address issues relating to grower hesitation towards exporting, and was designed to demonstrate that Australia’s high quality produce indeed has a strong market in Asia, when supplied through appropriate, well-developed channels. A dedicated area at the AUSVEG National Convention was set aside to facilitate business/trade discussions, whereby RTM participants, particularly the ‘buyers’ in the delegation, could meet with interested Australian vegetable growers personally to discuss potential opportunities. The Reverse Trade Mission successfully achieved its aims and clearly demonstrated the immense trade opportunities that could stem from further developing distribution channels for Australian vegetable producers in Asia. This will, however, require the Australian vegetable industry to undertake further initiatives in terms of relationship building, developing export strategies and establishing market access. Indicative of the Mission’s success, many of the RTM delegates and some of the Australian growers who were involved, have been continuing to foster the relationships formed during the Mission, some of which appear likely to result in significant business opportunities for both parties.