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Trade opportunities on the dinner menu in Vietnam

Publication date: 29 September 2023

More than 200 of Vietnam’s food industry leaders, importers, distributors and government representatives gathered last week to dine on Australia’s finest fresh food and premium wines.

The Taste the Wonders of Australia gala dinner was held in Ho Chi Minh City on Wednesday 20 September and was part of the Australian Food and Wine Collaboration Group’s latest export market push, following successful export market access sprints in South Korea and Thailand over the past 12 months.

The events provide representatives from Hort Innovation the opportunity to team up with Dairy Australia, Wine Australia, Seafood Industry Australia and MLA and meet face-to-face with customers and trade contacts. Discussions focus on market access, consumer demand and future growth opportunities for both countries.

Vietnam is the third country targeted by the Collaboration Group, and Hort Innovation General Manager Trade and Biosecurity R&D, Dr Mila Bristow, said it was an obvious target market for horticulture, with its close proximity to Australia and a population exceeding 98 million driving demand for high quality vegetables, fruits and nuts.

“We already have a positive, trusted partnership with Vietnam built on 50 years of diplomatic relations, but this event gave us the opportunity to enhance that relationship,” Dr Bristow said.

“We know there’s a real shared desire for mutual growth in this partnership. We have seen steady increase in demand for horticulture over the past five years, with a real commitment from retailers in Vietnam to put trusted, safe, diverse produce on their shelves.”

In 2022-23, horticultural exports to Vietnam grew by $26.5 million, up 15.8 per cent on the previous year, to $193.9 million, making it the second largest export market for Australian horticulture producers. Fruit and nuts are the big drivers, notably table grapes, almonds, citrus, macadamias and summerfruit.

The menu for the gala dinner illustrated the true strengths and depth of Australian agriculture products. Fresh citrus, seasonal vegetables, almonds and macadamias were teamed up with premium lamb and steak, fresh lobster, abalone and mussels, butter, yoghurt, cream cheese and ice cream, paired with wines from some of Australia’s premier growing regions.

The event, supported by Austrade and AusCham Vietnam, was attended by government representatives from both countries, including the Australian Consul-General, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam Sarah Hooper and Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner, Vietnam (Austrade) Rebecca Ball.

Dr Bristow said the event provided Hort Innovation the rare opportunity to work alongside some of Australia’s other influential agriculture representative groups through Australia’s Nation Brand approach.

“The collaboration with the other industry groups brings an added value proposition for horticulture,” Dr Bristow said. “It allows us to be part of Brand Australia and gives us the ability to build on that trusted brand.

“This recognition and trust already exists for wine and red meat, and we know there’s an opportunity for horticulture to really build on this – exporting is the domain for growth right across horticulture.

“It’s also good to be able to observe other commodity groups to see how they operate and achieve success.”

Dr Bristow said the market access activities in three countries are about building momentum for long-term growth.

“We are learning what it’s like to be part of the Nation Brand, and understanding what other countries think of Brand Australia,” Dr Bristow said. “Each time we take part in one of these export sprints we learn more as we build on lessons from the past and continue to test and adjust our approach.”

With the Vietnam Sprint completed, the Collaboration Group now turns its attention to the next target market – Indonesia.

“Indonesia is a very important near neighbour and a growing market for horticulture,” Dr Bristow.

Areas of focus for horticulture will include increasing fresh produce export, commencing discussions for new opportunities in value-added exports, and learning more about what Indonesian importers, retailers and consumers want from horticultural produce.

The Australian Food and Wine Collaboration Group is supported by an Agriculture Trade and Market Access Cooperation (ATMAC) grant of $500,000. An additional $600,000 grant announced earlier this year will see the partnership continue, with target markets including Taiwan slated for the next two years.

The Australian Food and Wine Trade Collaboration was created to promote quality Australian food and beverages in key international markets. The members and funding partners are Dairy Australia, Hort Innovation, Meat & Livestock Australia, Wine Australia and Seafood Industry Australia. 

* Data reference: ABARES, September 2023: