A PROJECT designed to increase West Australian vegetable exports to key overseas and emerging markets has kicked off in Perth.
The three-year project, spearheaded by vegetablesWA, will help upskill local vegetable growers to become export ready and tap into the global demand for quality, fresh produce.
VegetablesWA chief executive John Shannon said while times had been tough in the industry, there was work being done to help WA growers access overseas markets.
“We see strong potential for WA growers to access these markets,” he said.
“Australia has several competitive advantages in the international marketplace including geographical proximity to key markets, counter seasonality and the perception of Australia as a premium quality producer.
“The purpose of this export project, which is being funded through Hort Innovation, is to increase WA vegetable exports by supporting growers to capitalise on these commercial business opportunities.
“It will also assist in achieving the overarching objective of the Vegetable Industry Export Market Development Strategy of growing the value of vegetable exports by 40 per cent by 2020.”
WA Corn Growers managing director Jim Trandos said his family’s business, Trandos Farms, employed more than 100 people and produced sweet corn and beans on four properties in Wanneroo, Gingin, Beermullah and Broome.
“We currently export to Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and New Zealand,” he said.
“We are constantly working on increasing exports and have recently appointed Lloyd Williams as our export development manager to take care of our increasing export business.
“Our exports sit at about 15 per cent of our total sales annually and we are looking to increase our sales to 20 per cent in the next 12 months.”
Mr Trandos said export benefited the national economy and the industry because growers were not competing with others on the domestic market.
He said labour was the most difficult challenge facing the agriculture sector.
“The other issues in horticulture are also water and from an export point of view, we are a very high cost producing country which makes it more difficultly to compete on the world market,” he said.
“Our advantage is we are recognised as a clean, green, safe country for export production.”
Mr Trandos said the fourth generation family business would celebrate its 80th anniversary next year.
He said the farm group processed all its produce at its Neerabup facility, which supplied local supermarket chains as well as export customers.