BUILDING business ties was high on the agenda for Gunnible Pastoral Company director Robert Hoddle and Gunnedah Shire Mayor Jamie Chaffey at a recent citrus industry conference in China.
The International Citrus Industry Summit held in Shanghai from November 22 to 24 saw citrus producers, exporters and buyers gather from all over the world to discuss the citrus industry.
“China is now our biggest market for oranges and mandarins,” Mr Hoddle said.
“In 2016 Australia exported about 40,000 tonnes of citrus to China and this year it will be about 80,000 tonnes.”
The Gunnedah producer said Gunnible Pastoral Company would continue to pursue expansion into the international market.
“I think we will keep going with the Chinese market,” he said.
“The problem we have as farmers is that if we just deal with supermarkets here in Australia we get worse and worse pricing.”
“So unless we can develop export markets we’re not viable, so it’s really important that we concentrate on export to have another buyer. ”
Mr Hoddle said in terms of promoting Australian citrus, the product “promotes itself.”
“Citrus Australia is doing all it can to promote our products in Japan,” he said.
"But because they are very good quality they tend to promote themselves.
“There doesn’t seem to be any debate that the Australian product is the best that China imports.”
Mr Hoddle said the next step for developing citrus farming in the region is to implement local infrastructure.
“If the industry is going to expand it would be beneficial to us because there is no infrastructure in Gunnedah,” he said.
“If we had some facilities here in the future, more growers to support the facilities, and we would need more tonnage to think about building a facility then we would have very good industry here because we know it grows really well here.”
Gunnedah Shire Mayor Jamie Chaffey traveled to China to attend the conference and said “there is a lot interest” in potential investment opportunities.
“I spoke to many people at the conference whether they be growers, wholesalers or retailers and there is a lot of interest,” Cr Chaffey said.
“The potential for investment is enormous with a lot of interest.
“What we will do now is we will continue to talk to those potential investors, there are some that are interested in joint-venture opportunities and some that may look to lease land potentially where they can grow.”
Cr Chaffey said “enabling local infrastructure is the key.”
“If we can have a processing facility in this community there are a lot of growers and primary producers in the Gunnedah region that I speak to that are looking at ways to increase their profitability and they would use it.”