This article appeared in The Canberra Times, May 2020
A new industry group will look to introduce smaller producers from the Canberra region to growing Asian export markets that have been difficult to break into after receiving federal government support.
The Canberra Region Export Alliance, formed by the not-for-profit Agribusiness Regional Development Association, will offer producers, including winemakers, the chance to band together for export in cases where they would previously have been locked out.
The association’s secretary, Daryl Young, said it had been a tough start to the year for local producers, battling bushfires and now COVID-19, but the export market would remain critically important for Australia.
He said bringing producers together would allow them to have leverage overseas that would otherwise be closed to them, and the widespread shutdowns offered a chance to rethink how to reach different markets.
“You’ve got to have a model where [the producers] can all maintain their independence to a degree. If we took an approach and said, ‘We’re going to go under one brand and go out there’, you just wouldn’t get it [together],” Mr Young said.
The alliance received $200,000 from the federal government.
Canberra wine retailer Matt Farrah said small winemakers had little time to expand overseas.
“It’s very difficult without the marketing team behind them and the resources behind them. A lot of the smaller producers just don’t have that resource to be able to send someone over or have a representative in the country for four to six months to help build the brands. And the cost associated in doing so is huge,” he said.
Mr Farrah, who stocks many local producers unable to get onto shelves in larger retailers, said his business would serve as a hub to export local wines overseas, sharing freight costs for producers.
Mr Farrah, with the help of the China Australia Trade and Investment Council, recently sold 1600 bottles of wine into China, where a growing middle class is seeing the market for Australian produce expand.
The council’s executive director, Pan White, said it was a good time to start building the profile of local producers in China, where consumers sought unique products.