Just mentioning Australia when selling meat in China is enough to attract the lofty prices which have opened ultra-premium markets to livestock farmers.
Former trade minister Andrew Robb believes Australian producers have the chance to capitalise on the unprecedented emergence of China’s thirst for high-quality sheep meat and beef.
‘Selling to these markets we need to reach the top one per cent,’ Mr Robb told the government commodity forecaster’s conference in Canberra on Wednesday.
According to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics, in 2017/18 Australian beef exports to China are forecast to increase by around 17 per cent to 122,000 tonnes.
While competition from other beef producers like Brazil is expected to increase, Australian beef exports to China are projected to grow strongly at five per cent each year to 2022/23 to 158,000 tonnes.
Mr Robb, who is on the board of Australian cattle giant S Kidman and Co, says the word ‘Australian’ is a strong brand in China.
‘That’s why you’re going to Shanghai and paying $360 for a beautiful Australian steak,’ he said.
‘Australia has got the advantage. We’re seen as clean, green and healthy.’
Mr Robb believes technology is the next frontier to build on existing trust.
He used the example of Chinese consumers being able to use an app to select a cut of meat and see a video of the Australian farm it was produced on.
The emerging Chinese middle class is increasingly concerned with where food is sourced and a guarantee it is healthy, Mr Robb said.
‘Watch the health space – it’s going to explode up there,’ Mr Robb said.
Reflecting on Australia being China’s seventh largest trading partner, Mr Robb couldn’t resist a cheeky dig at US President Donald Trump’s increasing move towards protectionism.
‘Our (trade) surplus is about $70 billion over what we import from China, so Trump, eat your heart out,’ he said.