Satisfying Asian hunger for Australian produce
AFTER years of planning, meetings and trade negotiations, Proteco Oils is months away from shipping large volumes of product to Chinese grocery stores.
The Kingaroy-based cold-pressed oil manufacturer sent two test shipments of tree nut and peanut oils to the Asian giant late last year and early this year.
Owner Josh Gadischke said the shipments helped iron out the kinks in export process.
"We've got a few distributors in China that we are working with,” Mr Gadischke said.
"There is one major distributor that has a good footprint of stores that they currently service and they take other Australian food products into China.”
Getting approval from the Chinese government has been a long process for the company. The nation enforces higher than usual food safety standards that surpass what countries like Australia deem safe.
"China is a very big market and everyone wants to be a part of it,” Mr Gadischke said.
"They are, in their own way, very good gate keepers, it's easy to get stuff out of China, we're surrounded by Chinese made food and products, but going back the other way is extremely difficult. It's not impossible, but it's very difficult.”
Take aflatoxin, a mould commonly found on peanuts, for example. Australian regulators consider food 10 parts per million to be safe while China won't take anything with more than five parts per million.
"It doesn't sound like much, but in our tree nut products there can be trace amounts.” Mr Gadischke said.
As the China deal is finalised Mr Gadischke has also been looking for other markets in Asia.
His company started exporting larger scale container and airfreight deliveries of food grade oils to a Singapore. Proteco Oils uses the city-state as a base to sell into the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia.
"Were getting really good growth out of those markets,” Mr Gadischke said.
Securing these new markets is a key avenue of growth for the company and it amounts to about 40 per cent of its revenue.
There is a hunger for Australian food overseas and in a bid to capitalise on this demand Proteco has held off changing food labels to the native language.
"(Consumers) see an English label as genuine Australian, because there are a lot of copies,” Mr Gadischke said.
"Going into those markets we have to trademark our brand very carefully, because it is common to put our brand in and they copy it. That can happen with the smallest of companies like ourselves as well as big brands that we all know.”
Meanwhile shipments of cosmetic grade oils to European manufacturers have increased.
The company expects to export 100 tonnes of macadamia oil to Europe in 2018. This is good news for the growers as Mr Gadischke will have to crush about 240 tonnes of nuts.