Victorian-based grower-packer-exporter Montague shipped its first seafreight order of Australian nectarines to China on 13 December.
“The introduction of the new export protocol to China presents a huge opportunity for the local horticulture industry,” said Rowan Little, Montague Fresh general manager business development. “We are thrilled to have support from the Victorian Government Business Office, our network of growers in regional Victoria and distributor partners in China.
“We believe we will be able to supply the highest quality nectarines to the Chinese population.”
Montague held out until its sweet, white-fleshed Diamond Pearl nectarine was ready before shipping to China, while its exclusive nectarine variety, Rose Pearl, was air freighted to the market a week prior to the sea shipment.
Exporting to two customers in China, Zelun Trading in Shanghai and Standard Fruits in Guangzhou, both companies have exclusive marketing rights to the Montague Tree brand, which has been registered in China. A targeted marketing campaign will boost awareness of nectarines, with Montague to support its Chinese distributors through social media channels such as WeChat.
From January, Montague will be involved in the cross-commodity Australian campaign 'Now! In Season' to promote Australian nectarines at retailers China, including in-store tastings of its yellow-flesh nectarines, with similar promotions to take place at retailers in Thailand and Malaysia.
Montague has set a goal of increasing its exports from A$6m to A$30m in five years, and has purchased additional land near its Narre Warren headquarters to establish an export hub.
“It’s an ambitious target, but it will happen through market access,” Little said, adding that for Australia to compete effectively against Southern Hemisphere exporters Chile and South Africa, it needs to not only increase its volume grown, but also look at ways to efficiently pack and ship that extra volume of fruit to export markets.
“The domestic market has been flooded for about ten years and is only now starting to get some rationalisation and extra sales of better product, and sales to Asia continue to grow,” Montague managing director Ray Montague added.
Montague has planted another 350-400,000 plum trees, and is looking to extend its plum season with later varieties to be planted in as-of-yet unexplored stonefruit growing regions in Australia.