PASE project updates
The Package Assisting Small Exporters (PASE) is a grant program administered by the Department of Agriculture.
PASE has already funded 58 projects to assist small Australian exporters in a number of industries. Below are a few examples of what grantees have achieved and how the projects help other small exporters.
An example of Australian premium seafood Woodbridge smokehouse aimed to widen the export market.
An example of Australian premium seafood Woodbridge smokehouse aimed to widen the export market.
Going into their PASE project, the operations manager of Woodbridge Smokehouse, BJ Plummer, had a simple question: Even if there is consumer interest, how do you sell a premium product to an international market like China?
On behalf of the seafood export industry, Woodbridge Smokehouse attended trade show events in China, made contacts with industry consumers in Hong Kong and evaluated the demand of smoked fish in these markets. These efforts benefited the seafood industry as they were able to learn about their export market, the export process and share their findings with the Seafood Industry.
South Australian Research and Development Institutre (SARDI)
Food safety and quality is essential to thrive in an international market but the testing mechanisms for certain biotoxins in shellfish are time consuming and costly. SARDI proposed a solution to improve the way Australian shellfish exports are tested for bio-toxins.
Through PASE, SARDI completed a validation study that was in line with internationally accepted protocols on the Neogen test kit for analysing paralytic shellfish toxins (PST) as a rapid screening techniques in pacific oysters and blue mussels.
The export of bivalve shellfish has dropped considerably over the past two years. This is in direct response to the difficulties in measuring PST content in a timely fashion. The development of rapid test kits that unequivocally indicate that products are compliant with respect to PST will open up the opportunity to access markets.
Exporting can be a hard area to navigate for a small business without experience in international markets. To help, Dairy Australia taught Australian dairy businesses what is involved in becoming a small exporter. Dairy Australia held workshops across the country to assist dairy producers become ‘Trade Ready’. Having this knowledge helped producers decide if exporting was a viable option and reduced barriers for them to participate in the export market.
Grain Industry Association of Western Australia
Lupin derived products promoted by the Grain Industry Association of Western Australia.
The Grain Industry Association of Western Australia (GIWA) tested the international market for the human consumption of lupins and lupin-based products. GIWA worked to promote lupins as food through events like Gulfood 2017 in Dubai. GIWA also developed promotional material for these events, including a recipe book for cooking with lupins.
Australian Tea Tree Industry Association
The European Union, United States of America and Canada make up 80% of all Australian tea tree oil exports, so it is important for these markets to remain open.
The Australian Tea Tree Industry Association (ATTIA) conducted an independent survey of the cosmetic uses, functions and concentrations of tea tree oil in the European Union. The PASE funded survey and the resulting report provided data on dermal penetration. This supported Australian tea tree oil exporters to increase and maintain market access in the European Union.
With assistance from PASE, ATTIA also facilitated an article published in Food and Chemical Toxicology to support the use of reliable exposure data to evaluate the safety and efficacy of cosmetic ingredients.
Australian Avocados being sold in the Singaporean market.
Avocados Australia’s project aimed to help Australian exporters deliver premium ripe and ready avocados to Singaporean and Malaysian markets. The project funded travel to Singapore and Malaysia to gain further understanding of market access barriers and opportunities. By identifying that demand for Australian avocados could be increased by delivering a ripe and ready-to-eat product, Avocados Australia worked with participants along the supply chain to be able to reliably deliver a premium product to these markets.
Avocados Australia completed grower workshops, trade publications and guidance material for small exporters including an export manual and grower self-auditing tools.
Grain Trade Australia
Grain Trade Australia (GTA) successfully completed four projects under PASE.
GTA developed a Trading Standards Database to enable industry to print grain grading charts for all Australian grain commodities. In addition to the database, an application for the Visual Recognition Standards Guide and Weed Seed Booklet was developed to enable industry to view the resources online. The tools developed will assist industry to supply grain to any market where there is a need to comply with industry Trading Standards.
Additionally, GTA developed a Food Safety Database to capture and monitor the levels of contaminants such as heavy metals, mycotoxins, ergot, pyrrolizidine alkaloids and radiation in grains, with users being able to add and assess their own analysis test data. This database helps industry to collate their own data for individual business purposes, with the collated, de-identified data to be used to better inform domestic regulations and requirements as well as assisting with Australia’s input in international standards setting, such as through Codex (the international food safety standard setting body).
Under GTA’s Truck Cleaning Procedures project, a Code of Practice Technical Guideline Document was developed. This document supports the grain industry objective to develop sound and practical procedures to clean grain trucks post the carriage of high risk grain commodities that contain chemical residues – specifically, fertiliser treated with the fungicide flutriafol.GTA developed a Code of Conduct Practice Technical Guideline Document. The Guidelines for Development of a Container Packer Operations Manual supports small container exporters in establishing effective business procedures and provides the component steps and processes relevant to operating a grain container packing business. This document was designed to support and enhance overall industry effectiveness as well as providing confidence to customers that the Australian grains industry is committed to industry recommended practices.
Ensuring the consistency of quality in Australian produce is important in maintaining our international reputation. Australian grains are no exception. McMullen Consulting investigated the existing sampling systems used when loading grain in containers for export and developed recommendations for consistent sampling protocols for use by the industry.
McMullen Consulting investigated the best way to sample grain in Australia by comparing overseas sampling systems and determining relevant aspects that may be adopted in Australia. McMullen Consulting also worked with Australian container packers to assess current methods of sampling used in Australia.
As a result of this work, McMullen Consulting found that the manual system of sampling (that is, collecting grain manually from a moving grain stream rather than obtaining a sample through machinery) was used in many instances both overseas and in Australia. During the project, a number of sites were visited based on their sampling systems. Samples were obtained and analysed to provide insight into what sampling procedures produced the most accurate results. It was noted during the project that industry is encouraged to continually improve their sampling systems as referenced in the grain industry code of practice for the management of grain, which is mandatory for all Grain Trade Australia (GTA) members.
McMullen Consulting provided the findings of the project as well as recommended sampling practices to GTA to be used when developing industry wide guidelines.
NSW Farmers Association
Beef is a major export for Australia and the NSW Farmers’ Association completed a project that helped small exporters better understand the opportunities and risks of exporting to one of our major markets – China.
The purpose of the project was to gain an understanding of the logistical and trade issues NSW beef producers may face and also to give a group of beef producers the opportunity to gain first-hand experience of the Chinese market by participating in the project’s research team. The project included organising meetings for a group of farmers with the peak ecommerce firms, Alibaba and Yiguo, to discuss the potential for small volume premium beef brands retail-ready packed in Australia. The in-country research also gave the farmers the opportunity to visit key processing facilities and retail outlets, and see how beef is handled and presented in China.
A key aim of the project was to help producers understand the export process and, in particular, the opportunities arising from ecommerce for high-value, small-volume product lines, catering to health and quality conscious Chinese consumers.
Established supply chains are being disrupted by ecommerce, making it possible to reduce the gap between producers and consumers and strip costs from supply chains. China has very sophisticated ecommerce firms that own and operate advanced port-to-consumer cold chain logistic solutions. The NSW Farmers’ Association set out to compare marketing beef by such channels, with mainstream approaches such as the bulk export of frozen beef for consumer processing in China. A clear finding is that small exporters can’t compete in the low-margin, bulk beef export sector, but should instead focus on premium products marketed on ecommerce channels such as Yiguo and Alibaba’s T mall Fresh. NSW Farmers’ Association identified this approach plays to the farmers’ strength which is their ability to tell a credible story about the quality and provenance of their goods.
Project research identified that a retail-ready product packed in Australia is key to achieving premium prices, as opposed to shipping beef in bulk for retail packing in China.
The project found that attractive profit markets are achievable for small premium beef lines marketed on ecommerce channels, however, there are still risks and barriers to development. Producers would need access to state-of-the art domestic processing and packing facilities licenced for China. While there is currently limited access to these types of processing facilities, an improvement in this area would help many beef producers to become successful beef exporters in their own right.
The PASE funded project directly benefitted the beef industry, encouraging a group of beef producers in Southern NSW to take steps to form an export cooperative built around the learnings of the project. This group is currently seeking funding from the Farming Together program for a detailed financial study into the feasibility of producing, packing and marketing their beef on Chinese ecommerce channels.
Kangaroo Industry Association of Australia (KIAA)
Kangaroo meat is a highly versatile, lean red meat suited to a wide range of cuisines. In more than 30 years of scientific population studies, commercial harvesting has had no adverse impact on kangaroo populations. So how can the Australian kangaroo industry increase exports to international markets, including China, of this high protein, low fat and nutritious meat?
PASE funding supported the Kangaroo Industry Association of Australia (KIAA) to improve kangaroo meat market access, particularly into Asia by funding the following projects:
- the development of an Export Strategic Plan 2016-2020, outlining the key export markets of strategic importance to the industry;
- the development of the Australian Kangaroo Industry Five Year Research Development and Extension Plan 2016 – 2021. The Plan details the strategies and measures across the key success factors of animal welfare, sustainability, nutritional value, trade barriers/food safety, product value and communication;
- the release of a new KIAA website with detailed information on the industry, and including a regular blog update on industry activity;
- the establishment of a KIAA presence through AustCham in Beijing and Wechat (a Chinese social media site);
- tasting and media events in Japan and China to stimulate market acceptance and demand;
- the development of a communications strategy for key Asian markets; and
- the production of a commercial video and brochure, also in Mandarin, to showcase the kangaroo industry in international markets.
Australian Mango Industry Association
Most mangos produced in Australia go towards feeding Australian’s, however, there are also some great opportunities to sell our high quality product overseas. Currently Australia only exports around 12% of our production, - a figure the Australian mango industry is keen on increasing.
Through the assistance of PASE funding, the Australian Mango Industry Association produced an export plan and strategy for Australian mangoes. These plans provide a focussed approach to export market access and development.
Using the strategy, Australian mango exporters can now make better informed decisions about which markets to target, and how best to capitalise on export opportunities. In addition, the strategy identifies technology investment opportunities, including fruit-treatment technologies which might be used to satisfy importing country’s requirements. Finally, the strategy helps to prioritise and inform market access negotiation efforts involving both industry and government.
The project successfully delivered a focussed and informed strategy for Australian mango growers and exporters to help send this juicy product to more people around the world.
Australian Apple and Pear Limited
Australian apples and pears are currently exported to a number of countries, including China, Japan, Taiwan and Thailand. Exporting can be a daunting prospect as importing countries often require different types of accreditation, compliance and certification before shipments will be accepted. Australian Apple and Pear Limited (APAL) therefore decided to provide growers, packers and treatment facilities with an efficient, professional and streamlined export registration system in order to meet importing country requirements. This new electronic registration system was successfully launched in 2016, and has removed some of the barriers to becoming an exporter of apples and pears, including some of the compliance costs.
As part of their PASE project, APAL simultaneously created market access documents outlining standard operating procedures for apple export production, as well as a hierarchy of preferred post-harvest treatments for apples and pears. These documents assist the industry to both meet and explain the ways in which they meet the requirements of importing countries, paving the way for expanded market access as well as securing the access that we already have.
The purpose of AUSVEG Ltd.’s project was to equip small exporters to become export ready through the delivery of workshops and training to bridge the gap between export readiness in theory and exporting in practice.
AUSVEG Ltd. had previously created a successful, industry-recognised Export Readiness program featuring key resources including the Export Readiness Checklist, Guide to the Export Readiness Checklist and the Produce Tracking Booklet. With the assistance of PASE, AUSVEG Ltd. developed the Vegetable Industry Export Development Training Program to build on these resources.
In developing the Vegetable Industry Export Development Training Program, AUSVEG successfully delivered workshops in Queensland, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia.
Australian Eggs Ltd.
To help monitor eggs for Salmonella enteritidis, Australian Eggs Ltd were successful in receiving a PASE grant to develop a national Salmonella enteritidis monitoring and accreditation program. The program focuses on the testing requirements and accreditation processes to establish freedom from Salmonella enteritidis.
All Australian egg exporters now have access to accreditation under the program, which also assists exporters to access markets which require certification, such as Singapore, of freedom from the disease.
Cedar Hill Flowers and Foliage
Australia has a flourishing flower and foliage industry, which exports quality produce around the world including to Japan, America and New Zealand. Flower exporters must ensure their products are completely free of live insects or else their shipments may be rejected or subjected to damaging, expensive post-arrival pest treatments. This can be a daunting prospect to small exporters in particular, and it is therefore important that they have access to safe and effective methods to treat their flowers before export.
Cedar Hill Flowers and Foliage set out to test a new pest treatment product known as “Vapormate” (ethyl formate) that had the potential to be more effective than existing treatments. PASE funded a scientific study to assess the effectiveness of the new product on Australian wildflowers.
It was found that, unfortunately, no single dosage was an effective treatment for the majority of floriculture products, although there is potential for treatment of select foliage products such as Aussie typha™, Emu feather™, Goanna claw™, Koala fern™ and steel grass.
The study also found that fumigation with ethyl formate has advantages in terms of worker and environmental safety which can make ethyl formate an effective, rapid fumigant for durable commodities such as grains like wheat, split faba beans, sorghum and dried fruit.
The study ‘Disinfestation of floriculture products with ethyl formate fumigant: Vapormate®’ has been published in Acta Horticulturae. Cedar Hill plans to continue its efforts to find new, safe and effective ways to treat flowers and foliage to make exporting easier for Australian exporters.
Australia is known for safe, healthy, high quality produce, a reputation which underpins our agricultural exports. One of the anti-microbial treatment methods Australian beef processors have used for some time is the application of lactic acid, which kills any unwanted bugs on the surface of the meat. Lactic acid (or lactate) is used because it is scientifically proven to be effective and safe. Lactic Acid is present naturally in a large range of foods, including red meat, which is consumed without adverse effects.
Through PASE funding, Vanderlinde Consulting undertook a study ‘Submission for the use of Lactic acid for the removal of microbial contamination from kangaroo and sheep carcasses’ to provide information on the application of lactic acid to kangaroo and sheep, particularly for Australian exports to the European Union (EU) and other markets.
The department has lodged a submission to consider approving this treatment for exports of Australian kangaroo and sheep meat into the EU.
M&S Food Consultants
Food safety underpins Australia’s export reputation, and science underpins food safety. For that reason, PASE funded M&S Food Consultants to study microbial food safety in kangaroo processing establishments. Their report provided a new scientifically validated blueprint for kangaroo processors wishing to monitor and improve the hygiene of their meat processing systems.
As well as assuring Australian consumers of the hygiene and safety of kangaroo products, this work assists the industry to provide evidence of food safety to importing countries that are considering opening their markets to kangaroo products.
Southern Cross Agricultural Exports Pty. Ltd.
Consumers around the world are increasingly conscious of the harm that pesticides and herbicides can cause, and Australian farmers are actively seeking to reduce their use as much as possible. However, it may be hard for farmers who are reducing chemical usage to also differentiate their product from the crowd.
With assistance from PASE, Southern Cross Agricultural Exports developed a Certified Standard for Cereal which can help farmers to produce sustainable, residue free products. The standard was designed to address consumer demand for niche products which are environmentally friendly and chemical free, and allows the full supply chain to be traced and audited. The standard was developed with a particular focus on emerging international markets.
The development of a Certified Standard for Cereal means a farmer may receive a premium price for their product and the consumer can make a more informed purchase. It also aligns with the grains industry’s strategic vision to develop and promote a more efficient, sustainable and profitable industry in Australia.
Primal Foods Group
Exporting grain can be a complicated and difficult undertaking, particularly for smaller exporters without the corporate resources to navigate the world of export documentation, protocols and contract negotiations. Primal Foods Group sought to create an online portal to function as a single point of contact facilitate the trade of grain between smaller Australian growers and international buyers.
The online portal called “Farmgate Exchange” aims to help growers to market their grain from their own silos directly to buyers. In essence it helps to make export markets more accessible and aims to deliver better prices to Australian farmers. It has also assisted growers to access the premium grains market by providing non-blended, consistent quality and specific grain varieties, which can show product traceability and integrity.
Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries
A Singaporean customer buying Australian broccoli.
International consumers already know Australian vegetables are top quality, but it can be difficult to encourage their purchase if the price is high compared to other products. Cost efficiencies can help level the playing field, and with the assistance of PASE, the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Forestry (QDAFF) developed a new “iceless” packaging technology to maintain the quality of freighted green leafy vegetables, while bringing the price down.
The research investigated the use of plastic liners, ethylene inhibitors and modified atmosphere packaging (MAP), designed to create a low oxygen, high carbon dioxide and high humidity storage environment to extend shelf life of broccoli without the use of heavy, expensive top ice.
The project also examined the quality and price of Australian broccoli shipped to the United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Indonesia using MAP packaging technology, with positive results across the board. Packaging savings were also demonstrated for other leafy vegetables, such as celery and lettuce.
QDAFF provided presentations of key findings at industry seminars and in media articles in key industry publications. A project report ‘Improving market access, competiveness and profitability of small exporters of leafy green vegetables through adaptation of innovative packaging’ was developed and delivered to collaborators and interested small exporters.
Grains Industry Market Access Forum
The Grains Industry Market Access Forum (GIMAF) successfully completed two projects under PASE.
Scoping Study - For new or small exporters of Australian grain, grappling with export phytosanitary requirements can be a challenge. To try and assist, GIMAF conducted a scoping study aimed at developing a data-set of the base level of grain contaminates (including weed seeds, pests and other physical impurities) found in cereals, oilseeds and pulses throughout Australian grain production regions.
The ideal outcome from this project would have been the creation for a national data set on physical grain contaminants. Due to difficulties in obtaining proprietary information owned by bulk grain handling companies this was not achieved. However, there were alternative sources of information utilised and a scoping study ‘Grain contamination data collection project report’ was developed.
Recommendations based on this scoping study include the establishment of freedom from status for barley tripe mosaic virus, Manual of Importing Country Requirements (MICoR) enhancements, accessing data for industry use and benefit and the baseline surveying of physical contaminates.
Surveillance – The objective of this GIMAF project was to increase the level of awareness and adoption by farmers and consultants of the Grains Research and Develop Corporations (GRDC) GrowNotes™ Alert application in the grain growing states in south-eastern Australia. GrowNotes™ Alert is a free nationwide system for delivering urgent, actionable and economically important disease, pest weed and biosecurity.
Data about the absence or presence of pests and weed seeds in Australia’s grain exports is vital for the continued unimpeded access of markets. Better knowledge with supporting data about weed seeds and pests in Australian production areas will improve market access opportunities and possibly reduce unnecessary barriers into some markets providing enhanced marketing opportunities for small exporters.
As a result of this project there are now in excess of 800 grain producers and their advisors/consultants in south-eastern Australia registered with the GrowNotes™ Alert application and who are aware (via this project) of the role of GIMAF and the importance of market access to the grains industry.
Citrus Australia Ltd
For a number of export markets, Australian citrus growers and packing-houses are required to register with the Australian Government Department of Agriculture each season. Those markets include South Korea, China, Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, New Zealand and the United States.
To qualify for registration, growers and packing-houses are required to provide evidence to the department that certain requirements have been met. Those requirements include cultural practices in orchards, specific chemical sprays, weed control, pest monitoring, Integrated Pest Management, training and registration of crop monitors, inspections in packing houses, documented hygiene procedures in packing houses, pest and rodent control procedures in packing houses, and traceability procedures in packing houses. In addition to sighting documented evidence, the department also conducts field audits in orchards and packing houses.
Historically, growers and packing houses have lodged their applications (and supporting documents) via a paper-based system. With the growing trade into regulated markets (notably China), the paper-based system has presented significant challenges for industry and government.
The objective of the Citrus Australia PASE project was to improve export registration by developing functionality and improvements for the existing online system. Additional developments to the Export Registration System created further efficiencies and cost-saving for the citrus industry and the Government.