18 / June / 2018

Export opportunities ripe for the picking


Posted 18 June 2018

An Elimbah-based strawberry farm is among a group of businesses from the Moreton Bay and Sunshine Coast regions eyeing export opportunities into Asia.

E & A Coco and Sons Pty Ltd participated in a 12-day, Government-led export development trip to Hong Kong and Indonesia this month, which showcased local produce including the signature ‘Rhapsody’ strawberries.

“This uniquely Queensland strawberry, developed right here in Queensland by Department of Agriculture staff, has attracted the interest of chefs and restauranteurs from the world,” Premier and Minister for Trade Annastacia Palaszczuk said.

“Now, a successful delegation to Hong Kong and Indonesia has generated great interest from suppliers, with commercial orders for the product expected to be placed in the coming days.”

Sporting a distinctive dark red/purple colour, the Red Rhapsody variety of strawberry is very resistant to diseases and bruising in the supply chain, making it ideal for exporting to Asia.

“With that bumper crop of Red Rhapsody on the Sunshine Coast right now, the timing couldn’t be better.”

The trip was the first under the State Government’s $1.3 million Growing Queensland’s Food Exports (GQFE) program, helping to assist food companies to build their business capability.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said three Queensland strawberry businesses would work collaboratively to conduct research and trials with the information to be shared with all strawberry growers in Queensland.

“Elimbah-based E & A Coco and Sons Pty Ltd have collaborated with other Sunshine Coast strawberry businesses, Ashbern Farms and Berry Patch, and the Queensland Strawberry Grower Association and their work will ultimately benefit the entire industry,” Mr Furner said.

Push to increase exports, jobs

Mr Furner said the GQFE was part of the Palaszczuk Government’s commitment to increase Queensland’s exports and deliver more jobs and strong economic growth in regional areas.

“We are assisting six diverse food companies from macadamias, mangoes and melons, to strawberries, sweet corn and pork to build their business capability in the first round of funding under the GQFE with a second round of funding available in July 2018,” he said.

“Companies targeting the export priorities of their sector can apply for matched funding of up to $100,000 (minimum of $50,000) over two years per eligible project with applicants to co-contribute at least 50 percent of the total funds required.

“The program focuses primarily on horticulture as Queensland is Australia’s largest producer of vegetables and the second largest producer of fruit and nuts.”

Funding opportunities

For other local food companies looking to take advantage of the government’s Growing Queensland’s Food Exports program, the next funding round for applications opens on 1 July, 2018.

Food producers who would like to know more can phone 13 25 23 or email GQFE@daf.qld.gov.au