Australian state of Victoria pushes out $39.7m plan to promote products in Asia

(From left) Ms Rose Yong, country manager for Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Myanmar and Brunei for Meat & Livestock Australia, Mr Richmond Lim, executive chef for Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, and Dr Denis Napthine, Premier of Victoria. Dr Nap
(From left) Ms Rose Yong, country manager for Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Myanmar and Brunei for Meat & Livestock Australia, Mr Richmond Lim, executive chef for Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, and Dr Denis Napthine, Premier of Victoria. Dr Napthine helping Chef Lim with a stir-fry beef dish. Here he is getting a whiff of the rosemary he is adding to the pan. -- ST PHOTO: CASSANDRA CHEW

THE Australian state of Victoria has launched an A$35 million (S$39.7 million) plan to put Victorian food and produce on the tables of Asians.

It is a bid to tap into the growing clout of middle-class Asians, expected to increase by six-fold to 3.5 billion people by 2030.

State premier Denis Napthine, in announcing the initiative dubbed Food to Asia Action Plan in Victoria's capital city of Melbourne on Wednesday, described it as "a concerted plan to give our food producers every opportunity to sell their high-quality products in Asia". He was speaking at the opening breakfast event during the annual International Food and Beverage Trade Week.

Victoria is Australia's leading food and agriculture state, with food exports in 2012/2013 valued at A$7.6 billion, or 26 per cent of Australia's total food exports, more than any other state. It is known for its dairy products, wine and fruits such as oranges and grapes.

As part of the plan, representatives will be appointed to Victoria's business government offices in China, Indonesia and Malaysia. The representative in Malaysia will also oversee the promotion of food and beverage trade and investment in Singapore.

Secondly, research and development in the food sector will focus on tailoring products to suit the Asian palette.

For example, scientists at the Victorian government's AgriBio facility at La Trobe University in Melbourne will map an "encyclopaedia" of Victorian milk.

There, they will investigate the milk in detail to develop new, high-value products for consumers in Asia.

The government will also look into ways to get their products into new markets, as well as promote investment in Victorian farms and food processing firms.

casschew@sph.com.sg