Friday, April 11, 2008

India Key Market for Australian Food Companies

India Key Market for Australian Food Companies
(Economic Times, India)

The emergence of India as a major economy has led many food companies from Australia to eye the booming Indian market for cheese, wines, fruit, vegetables, meat, beef and marine foods.

India is a key market for Australian wheat and apples and efforts are now on at various levels to ensure more shelf space for Australian items in Indian supermarkets.

In the high-profile wine segment, companies like De Bortoli Wines, Domaine Chandon and Yering Station are working with industry bodies, local governments and the authorities in Canberra to boost exports to countries like India, seeking better market access through lower tariffs and wide distribution facilities.

In the case of cheese, companies like Victoria-based Jindi Cheese are working with Dairy Australia and regional governments to boost market access in Asia. Promising premium quality, these companies are seeking to bank on Australia’s image as a producer of food items free of pesticides and fertiliser residues, diseases and pollution.

“We in Australia produce some of the best wines in the world,” said Stephen Webber, chief winemaker and manager at De Bortoli Wines in the picturesque Yarra Valley. The unpolluted countryside of Australia and good weather most parts of the year help in making quality wines.

De Bortoli’s focus is on delicious wines that come with an affordable price-tag, he added. Most other wine companies in Australia are also looking at this segment, even as they continue to produce small qualities of super premium stuff, and the Indian market is one of the key priorities along with Europe, Japan and south-east Asian countries.

“India is of great interest. I would like to travel to India and bring my family along as well,” said Stuart Nettlefold, executive officer of Wine Industry Tasmania, an organisation that promotes Tasmanian wines.

Australia has emerged as a major source of quality wines, said Gorden Gebbie, commercial director at Rathbone Wine Group. Australian produce can compete aggressively in terms of quality, he said, while emphasising on emerging markets since consumption Down Under is less than the country’s production.

Cameron Murphy, business development manager in charge of Asia Pacific at Victoria-based winery of Moet & Chandon, also feels that Asian markets like India hold a lot of promise though Europe, the US and Japan are major consumers of Australian wine now.

The story is no difference in the case of cheese. Michael Dwyer, national sales manager at Jindi Cheese, is looking for a robust marketing and distribution link in India while Dairy Australia is emphasising on quality of Australian products to expand markets in Asia.

Michael Doherty, managing director of Aurora Gourmet Produce, is exporting grain-fed lamb of consistent quality to Russia and Asian countries like Malaysia. Large markets like India will be on the radar for premium products sought after by restaurants for their consistent quality, he said.

RWS International which produces premium salmon is also looking at overseas expansion while Meat & Livestock Australia is promoting meat products in various markets.

India already imports table grapes, citrus fruits, peaches, plums and cherries from Australia. In the case of apples, India is the top market for Australian produce. The Indian government was also importing wheat from Australia till drought hit production in the country.

Government officials in Australia are hopeful that production would increase sharply due to good rains during recent months and consumers like India will return to buy grain produced there. The Australian government and trade-promotion agencies are also pushing for export of vegetables and premium products like extra virgin olive oil.

Farmers in various parts of the country, including the outskirts of Canberra, are growing olives and the oil they produce now competes with premium brands from Europe. India is considered a potential market for olive oil in view of its health benefits.

No comments: