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New air route takes premium SA food and wine to the Middle East

In the first eight months of Qatar Airways' direct service from Adelaide to Doha, which began in May, the average monthly value of air freight exports has more than tripled from $115,000 to $355,000.

The increase has been driven by wine, vegetables, fresh meat, fresh fruit and domestic electrical appliances. The boost in exports to Qatar comes at a time when South Australian companies are looking to ramp up sales of premium food and wine products to the Middle East.

Fifteen South Australian businesses were represented at Gulf Foods in Dubai from 26 February – 2 March 2017 ahead of a South Australian business delegation to the Middle East and North Africa, which begins this week.

Led by South Australian Trade Minister Martin Hamilton-Smith, the business mission will include representatives from the Agribusiness, Resources and Energy, Water Management, Health and Education industries. The Middle East North Africa delegation will include government and business meetings with officials from Iran, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, and Egypt from March 11-19.

In the 2015-2016 financial year South Australian trade exports to the Middle East and North Africa totalled about AUD$656m, with two-way trade amounting to $775m. Key exports included agriproducts such as grains, oil seeds and vegetables, fresh meat, and live animals.

Australian Produce Collective is about to begin selling premium fresh fruit and vegetables in the United Arab Emirates this month under its Fresh Please brand in supermarkets.

The collective, which is the export arm of the South Australia Produce Market at Pooraka, pulls together up to 50 lines of fresh produce from more than 30 South Australian suppliers and markets them under the Fresh Please brand. The premium grade fruit and vegetables are already being sold in supermarkets in Malaysia.

It will open a “store within a store” with about 30 lines in the fresh produce section of supermarkets in Abu Dhabi this month.

CEO Craig Katz said airfreight from Adelaide with Emirates Airlines enabled fresh fruit and vegetables to be on the supermarket shelves in the Middle East within 48 hours of being picked. However, he said the additional cost involved meant that educating consumers about the premium nature and health benefits of fresh produce from Australia was vital.

“What we’re launching this month in Abu Dhabi is our own area within the fresh section of a supermarket,” said Mr Katz.

“What we want to try to do is have that focus on Fresh Please so we have that point of difference and an area where consumers can be educated.

“We have stands with signage talking about premium produce, talking about in-season and why that’s important to consumers. It’s really creating that awareness of Fresh Please and Australian produce.”

Mr Katz has been on several South Australian Business Missions in the past, including to the Middle East, and said they were valuable opportunities to establish international connections and lay the foundations for export.

Image Caption: Demand for SA wine, vegetables, fresh meat, fresh fruit and domestic electrical appliances is driving an increase in air freight exports to the Middle East

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