Australian lamb in demand across India, Austrade

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 25th June 2014
Australian lamb is in high demand in India, according to Austrade
Australian lamb is in high demand in India, according to Austrade

Sheep and lamb products are increasingly in demand across India, according to the Australian Government body Austrade.

In an Australian export case study, Austrade showed that Fletcher International Exports (Fletcher), already a major exporter of Australian sheep and lamb products had been “lured to India” because of the growing market opportunities. Fletcher already exports sheep and lamb products to more than 100 countries across the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, the US and Asia.

India’s key food distribution channels are expanding. According to Technopak, ‘Emerging Trends in Indian Retail and Consumer 2013 report, the food and grocery market represented US$338.1 billion or 69 per cent of the total retail market valued at US$490 billion. Organised retail accounted for 8 per cent or US$37 billion of Indian retail.

Fletcher International Exports was founded in the mid-1970s by Roger Fletcher. Austrade said Fletcher had grown from “humble beginnings” to become the largest sheep meat processor in Australia and exporter of sheep and lamb products. The Company currently operates two abattoirs in Dubbo, New South Wales and Narrikup, near Albany, in Western Australia. Both facilities are fully integrated, processing all parts of the animal but the wool from both abattoirs is only processed at Dubbo.

Niklas Moore, Fletcher International Exports Indian Marketing Representative, said both abattoirs process (slaughtering and boning) 9,000 sheep and lamb a day and 90,000 a week between the two plants.

“Having two plants provides increased capabilities to meet customer orders. Each site has advantages in transit times to specific markets, allowing deliveries to be shipped from either the east or west coast of Australia to achieve the best outcome,” Mr Moore said.

Entering India

“Japan was the first market in Asia Fletcher International Exports entered,” Mr Moore said. “This was followed by Korea, Taiwan, China and then other smaller Asian markets. However, Roger identified opportunities in India and was very keen to get his products into the market,” he said.

Fletcher International Exports was the first Australian company to enter the Indian market, after the Indian Government allowed lamb imports.

“With the assistance of Austrade and DAFF (Department of Agriculture), we entered in October 2012 after showcasing our products at Fine Food India,” Mr Moore said.

Mr Moore said Austrade provided advice, introduced the Company to customers, provided details of reputable distributors to meet and helped the Company promote its Australian products in the market.

“Austrade also helped us launch our products into Auchan supermarkets in August last year,” Mr Moore said.

Fletcher’s lamb range has also been paired and promoted with various Australian wine labels already in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai as part of a series of tailored Australian food and beverage events organised by Austrade.

Since assuming the responsibility for the Indian market, from founder Roger Fletcher and Graham Lyon who together initiated Fletcher’s entry, Mr Moore said the aim had been to enhance the brand across India.

Fletcher International Exports’ premium lamb products are found in many of India’s growing hotel and restaurant sectors, particularly the four and five-star hotels – where its premium lamb rack is the most popular product. It also has a strong presence across Delhi and Mumbai where the Fletcher products are distributed to various retailers through several suppliers in each city.

“Like China, India has a large population and a growing middle-class that is interested in fine dining, especially lamb,” Mr Moore said. “This can be seen through the many new high quality hotels and restaurants being built,” he said.

“Despite being a largely vegetarian population, there is a lot of interest in lamb which is another main protein source used in a lot of curries and dishes,” Mr Moore said. “This was another factor which attracted us to India,” he said.

Preference for Australian lamb

Mr Moore said what gave his company the competitive edge was Fletcher International Exports’ reputation for supplying the highest quality lamb and sheep meat products around the world; obtained over many years of servicing retail and supermarkets worldwide. According to Mr Moore, this was complemented by the company’s ability to provide the same consistent quality to hotels, retail and high-end catering markets in India.

“Not only do we have the abattoirs which use the latest technology and operate under strict quality controls, Roger also owns the farms where he breeds the highest quality lamb,” Mr Moore said.

Mr Moore said that the final products are rechecked by the quality assurance teams before leaving the abattoir to ensure the highest standards are met.

Mr Moore said there are other reasons for the success of Australian lamb in India, including Australia’s globally recognised breeding conditions, advanced farm management; stringent animal welfare protocols and the highest food safety standards in the world – which ensure food is produced under the strict food safety regulations of the Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture.

Doing business in India

Mr Moore stressed the importance of understanding the market before entering.

“It is critical to do your homework and research,” Mr Moore said. “You need to understand what it takes to enter the market and what the requirements of the government and your customers are,” he said.

“India is not a market to go to and expect to succeed immediately,” Mr Moore said. “It requires a detailed strategy, meeting laws around labelling, certification and distribution too, especially in our industry,” he said.

“I would definitely suggest contacting Austrade to understand how they can help but, not only before entering the market but also once there too,” Mr Moore said.

The plan going forward, according to Mr Moore, was to get Fletcher’s products into various areas across India once the Company has a better understanding of the market..

With Fletcher International Exports also being Halal certified, Mr Moore said expansion into nearby countries Pakistan and Nepal is also possible.