A MOVE to better reflect the bilateral nature of horticulture trade has seen the emergence of the newly named, Australian Horticultural Exporters’ and Importers’ Association (AHEIA).
The new name is an update to the Australian Horticulture Exporter’s Association which held its annual general meeting and industry forum in Melbourne last month.
The AHEA has been the peak industry body representing exporters and importers of horticultural produce in Australia since 1987.
The meeting provided an opportunity for industry to address issues and allow stakeholder collaboration.
The AHEA represents 65 per cent of exporters and 75pc of importers by value.
At the AGM, members voted to change the association’s name with rebranding to be rolled out in the weeks to come.
Members also voted in the existing board of directors, along with two new executive committee directors; Prudence Barker of BGP International Pty Ltd, in Melbourne, and David Hooper of Harvest Moon, in Tasmania.
AHEA chairman, Joseph Saina, welcomed the new directors and thanked the board, CEO and members for their contribution and ongoing commitment to Australia’s $1.7 billion fresh produce import and export trade.
Key speakers at the Industry Forum reflected AHEA’s bilateral focus and included speakers from the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture and Water Resuorces , Austrade, Horticulture Innovation Australia (HIA) and Freshcare.
The Department of Agriculture’s plant import operations assistant secretary, Lois Ransom, and newly appointed plant export operations assistant secretary, David Ironside, both addressed the meeting on issues of market access, and two-way trade.
The Deparment established the Imported Fresh Produce Working Group (IFPWG) in May, which includes representatives of various industry stakeholders.
Matters addressed included implications for the regulation of fresh produce arising from the new Biosecurity Act 2015; the department’s transition from Offshore Pre-shipment Inspection; modernisation of the way imported fresh produce is regulated, as well as irradiation as a phytosanitary measure for regulated pests of fresh produce.
Ms Ransom also spoke of management of biosecurity risk, and focussing the most attention on issues that involve the most risk, as well as using historic data to reward compliant pathways through reduced inspections using the Compliance-Based Inspection Scheme (CBIS), an evidence-led, risk-based approach.
Mr Ironside spoke of the market access and prioritisation process, the mechanisms for industry engagement and the importance of effectively engaging all relevant parties. He demonstrated willingness to engage with members of the audience to address operational issues that were raised during the course of the day.
Austrade senior trade advisor, Jenny Van de Meeberg, provided a glimpse of the future of shopping for fresh produce, albeit with a warning that Australian exporters must retain a focus on innovative value-adding to maintain their competitive advantage.
She spoke on personalisation which retailers use to emotionally connect customers to a product.
Freshcare general manager of industry development, Clare Hamilton-Bate, spoke of the expanded range of responsibilities Freshcare now has, and provided new information on the accreditation required for exports and the interest in such accreditation by our major trading partners.
Freshcare has developed a new, interactive, on-line platform, allowing training and accreditation to be done online.
Importantly for exporters, Freshcare certification has now been benchmarked against the international Global GAP standard, and to gain Global GAP accreditation suppliers now only have to upgrade their current Freshcare certification.
HIA trade general manager, Michael Rogers, said horticulture accounts for about 15pc of GVP in agriculture (ie. $11.3 billion).
He said HIA had committed funding to the “Frontier Funds”, facilitating collaborative cross-industry projects with a long-term focus, focussing on challenges in areas identified as important to securing the future of Australian horticulture, and dependent on feasibility of outcome and clear pathways to adoption of new markets.
Fresh Intelligence Consulting’s Wayne Prowse, provided up-to-date statistics on the growth of horticultural trade in 2016/17.
He said Australian fresh produce two-way trade increased 7pc to $1.7 billion, of which exports alone were $1.2 billion.
China is the leading market by volume and value worth $245 million.
It was noted that Chinese imports of fresh produce had increased exponentially and that the majority of Asian imports were imported from regions that were geographically close (predominantly Asia).
Singapore, UAE and Japan were the three largest importers of Australian vegetables.
Steritech’s Ben Reilly detailed the investments Steritech are making in Sydney and Melbourne to increase access to phytosanitary irradiation and efforts in engaging with government and industry to support its use in satisfying import and export protocols.
The afternoon was concluded by AHEA chief executive officer, Dominic Jenkin, who emphasised the importance of transparency and communication across industry and government as it seeks a more coordinated approach to market access and expansion, increased value and efficiency of trade.