Conversations on Export: Australian Organics, Part 1

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In anticipation of our upcoming organic export market tour to Singapore and Hong Kong at the end of this month, we connected with representatives of Australian organic manufacturing companies who will be attending the tour. In this article, we speak with three of the 6 participants. Adelyn Chee, from Murray River Organics; Janine Adams, from Undivided Food Co.; and Don Murray, from Nature’s Haven offer their insights, from the perspective of a growing local industry.

Do you believe there are significant differences in exporting organic products from non-organic products?

“Yes!” says Janine Adams, of Undivided Food Co. “With access to potentially huge markets, being organic is a point of differentiation. I believe the affluent part of Asia is looking to buy premium organic products, especially from clean, green countries such as Australia. Our target market is the high-end consumer, which by Australian standards, is a very large number.”

Don Murray of Nature’s Haven agrees. “There are more opportunities in organic produce precisely because Australia is seen as clean and green,” he says. “And our organic produce meets that criteria as much as any produce out there.”

Not only that, but Singapore and Hong Kong are fairly well-developed markets. “Therefore, they do understand organic as being free from chemicals and pesticides etc,” says Adelyn Chee, of Murray River Organics.

How do you educate overseas markets about the value of organic products given that in most instances it has a price premium?

“We, along with other suppliers need to highlight ‘Certified Organic,’” says Janine Adams. While awareness is also growing due to the disparity in quality of local foods. “Those markets are going to get better quality food,” says Don Murray. “They’re not going to have the health and safety problems that are happening in some of those countries at the moment. The pollution levels generally are remarkable in some places.”

But it’s worth the extra cost, of course. “Because it is as pure and natural as possible, and fresh,” says Adelyn Chee. “Our organic dried vine fruit is naturally dried on the vine with no added chemicals. We show them how it’s grown and dried on the vine and what they are getting is what’s in the bag. So, it’s as natural as eating it off the vine directly.” There are many methods and approaches to educating overseas markets. In this field certification is particularly paramount. “We have organic certification across a number of major markets,” she says. “So the local consumers actually understand that we are organic by their local certifying body.”

What are you most excited about with the upcoming Singapore and Hong Kong markets tour?

“Speaking to the right people and focusing on the organic category. I think organic can sometimes be lost amongst standard product categories. A dedicated organics’ destination will build category momentum,” says Adelyn Chee. “Also, speaking to the right distributors or food service customers that are asking for or are focused on the organics trend.”

“Rather than a scattergun approach through meeting potential customers and distributors through trade shows,” she says, “this is quite targeted, so Murray River Organics is really excited to be involved because it will provide us with new targeted leads. Whereas if we were to do it on our own it would be ten times more time consuming. And we probably would not have the opportunity to meet with some of the buyers like we will through this program, simply because we are presented as a united group, as opposed to our individual categories.”

“Getting a picture of what the market actually wants is what I´m looking forward to,” says Don Murray. “At the moment, instead of looking at what the market wants first, we Australians tend to look at what we’re growing, then try and sell it overseas, and export it. When we work the other way around we can grow much better through targeted exporting – and then we can compete globally.”

“I´m looking forward to determining what sort of opportunities are potentially available to us,” says Janine Adams. “Also, finding out – are we better going through a distributor (which seems most likely), or going direct to retail?” These are essential questions for many companies in the same position and it is a unique opportunity to get such first-hand advice and guidance while decision-making.

What do you like most about traveling in a group?

“Cross education,” says Adelyn Chee. “we have non-competing categories so we can really share and support each other, whether it’s contacts outside of Singapore and Hong Kong, our insights or anything else that could be of value for other attendees.”

“The main thing about traveling in a group is that you can play off against each other, ask questions and fill in the gaps that you might miss later on,” says Don Murray. “Amongst the to-ing and fro-ing with each other, you can work out where you should go, and then you’ve got other relationships – you can ring up someone further down the track and ask them a question about what they would do in the same situation. It´s really useful.”

“Yes,” says Janine Adams, “brainstorming with like-minded people, and taking advantage of opportunities that you may not have had if travelling on your own. It´s a big advantage.”

To hear more from Janine, Don and Adelyn, and learn about their experiences, growth and gains on the Singapore and Hong Kong market tour, join us at our Market Insights Forum in Melbourne on 10 September. Read more about it here:

Feature image by The Climate Reality Project on Unsplash