Australian food exporters get some Christmas cheer

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 22nd December 2009

Whilst protecting our environment has been the focus for leaders this month, when families around the world sit down for their festive feast this year many will have Australian exporters to thank for foods with a sustainable flavour, according to Austrade Chief Economist Tim Harcourt.

Mr Harcourt noted that sales in many Christmas-related food categories had soared this year, while sustainable products were performing well.

“Several food and beverage export categories have being growing strongly this year, despite the GFC, and the ‘Christmas- related’ staples – things like puddings, cakes and spirits – have been growing in double digits,” he advised. “For example, there’s been a 16 per cent growth in spirits over the year (comparing 2009 over the same period to 2008), and a massive 64 per cent in brandy exports to help add flavour to those world beating Christmas puddings!”

Mr Harcourt pointed to the success of a Newcastle-based pudding manufacturer to highlight the sustainability movement.

“One such enviro success story is pudding company, Pudding Lane, who were this year awarded an Australian Food Challenge Award for Sustainable Manufacturer. Their Australian-first purpose-built pudding building uses almost no machinery and the puddings are cooked using the latest gas efficient technology, they use solar-heated water, grey water is captured for staff facilities and gardens and floor lighting is the latest energy efficient technology,” he said.

“Selling mainly to the UK, they use eco-friendly methods including recycling all cardboard and paper packaging. Their packaging is made from 100% recycled material- and is hand stitched by a local charity group – The House with No Steps.”

“Poultry is another fast growing category, with Rainbow Valley Turkeys flying the flag. Their turkeys, which are selling into Taiwan and Malaysia, fully abide by international and domestic animal welfare standards, with birds enjoying ideal conditions in a natural and wholesome environment,” Mr Harcourt added. “Whenever the company make a decision on new equipment or procedure they take into account the environmental impact. For example, they’ve established plantations of native trees at their new production facilities to help offset carbon emissions.

“Exposure to Asian buyers is potentially increased during the Christmas period, and represents a marketing opportunity for the company as more Asian countries open up to western influences and traditions.”

Mr Harcourt said companies like Pudding Lane and Rainbow Valley Turkeys were prime examples of the potential for food exporters.

“These companies are innovators, at the forefront of minimising their carbon footprint, and using that as a marketing point of difference to a highly environmentally conscious customer,” he noted. “It’s a great thing to be able show people that they can have a relatively guilt free Christmas by doing something good for the environment when they make choices about what to put on the table.

“The great thing about these products is that they are made with thought for the environment and are further evidence of Australia’s commitment to our international “green” friendly brand.”