Export boost for premium produce

Cecilia AllenManjimup-Bridgetown Times

Cider, cheese, baby food and organic beef are among premium foods producers in the Lower South West could be selling to Asia, adding up to $4 billion a year of value to the State’s agri-food sector.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, formerly known as the Department of Agriculture and Food, released a report earlier this month which identified 20 opportunities for premium food production in WA.

The Premium Agrifood Market Opportunity defines premium products as those achieving higher prices than the mainstream everyday category average.

According to the report, WA’s agri-food industry has a gross farm gate value of $8.4 billion and $13 billion in agri-food processing and bulk handling turnover.

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Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan said WA had a great reputation for producing quality food, but lagged behind other States and developed countries in exporting premium, value-added, consumer-ready products.

“This report highlights export market value up to $4 billion across the 20 priority opportunities and analyses the capacity for WA businesses to capture a larger share of the value of this market,” she said.

More than 500 product types were screened to identify 20 key opportunities to target high-value and high-growth markets.

Blackwood Valley Brewing Co/The Cidery owner John Lucey said there was potential for growth in the cider and beer industry.

“The drinking experience has changed and people are interested in premium niche markets,” he said.

“People no longer want mass produced products, they want products that use good quality ingredients.”

Mr Lucey said he had seen a huge growth in the cider and hand-crafted beer industry but a lot of producers were importing apple concentrates to make cider instead of using fresh ingredients.

“We would welcome more cider producers in the region and support them, as long as they are using fresh ingredients.”

The Cidery uses a number of ingredients from the region, including Newton Brother’s apples.

Cambray Cheese owner Jane Wilde, who makes premium cheese, said there was a demand for a premium product but the market had been flooded with subsidised imported cheese.

“There is a good market locally and internationally for premium cheese, but it costs too much to send overseas and we’re competing with subsided products,” she said.

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