Premium produces woos visitors

Cally Dupe, Stuart McGuckin and Shannon SmithCountryman
The South East Asian buyers visiting Irongate Wagyu.
Camera IconThe South East Asian buyers visiting Irongate Wagyu. Credit: Supplied

The State Government has pitched WA as a centre of excellence in agriculture to a delegation of South East Asian food and beverage buyers touring WA.

With eight delegates from four countries touring WA last week, the focus was on meat, dairy, fruit and vegetables, and seafood.

The group from Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam were shown export-ready food and beverage businesses in the Wheatbelt, Great Southern, South West and Perth.

Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development hosted the group, which included food and beverage buyers from Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.

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Irongate Wagyu beef producer Michael Gilmour hosted a visit to his Kalgan farm property last Wednesday.

He exports his Wagyu beef to some of the South-East Asian countries under his export brand Futari.

“We are basically a big genetics business. We do a lot of business in embryos and semen and providing our genetics to produce high quality wagyu,” Mr Gilmour said.

“We are expanding in the next couple of years to be a standalone export company and increase our current production.

While on the property, the buyers were given a presentation about Wagyu breeding and a tasting of high marble score (MS8-9) eye fillet.

The farm employs a Japanese woman to work full-time researching genetic data and the attributes the Wagyu breeders seek.

Touring the Bunbury Farmers Market last Tuesday, JWM Asia manager Kevin Ong said the freshly-made produce at the market was not available widely in Asia.

His business imports fruit and vegetables from around the world to sell at supermarkets, with head offices in Japan, South Africa and Hong Kong.

“In the Asian market, we have a lot of pre-packaged stuff from a central kitchen,” Mr Ong said.

“I was shocked that the skill in the back-of-house production was only for this store.

“I was expecting that from here they supplied to other stores but they don’t.”

Chloe Koay of Chop Tony Guang, Bunbury Farmers Market c0-owner Kevin Opferkuch, Agnes Ng of Gourmet Partner and Anthony Low of Honestbee tuck into some fresh mangoes.
Camera IconChloe Koay of Chop Tony Guang, Bunbury Farmers Market c0-owner Kevin Opferkuch, Agnes Ng of Gourmet Partner and Anthony Low of Honestbee tuck into some fresh mangoes. Credit: Stuart McGuckin

Bunbury Farmers Market co-owner Kevin Opferkuch said it was exciting to host “such a strong group of retailers and suppliers”.

“They were particularly impressed by the quality of the product available and probably the freshness most of all,” he said.

“They were excited by the layout and variety as well.”

South East Asia represents half of WA’s top 10 global markets for agriculture and food products.

It also represented 27 per cent of WA’s food and agriculture exports in 2016-17.

WA Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan said growing demand in South East Asia presented a rich opportunity for WA businesses.

She said the State’s proximity to the Asian region and a strong

reputation meant producers were perfectly placed to capitalise on increasing demand.

“Critically, we can supply counter-season products from the Northern Hemisphere, giving our producers a real competitive edge,” she said.

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