Cherry trade with Asia

As one of the largest growers of premium cherries in Australia, Wandin Valley Farms from Victoria’s Yarra Valley has long enjoyed a captive customer base in Australia to drive its multi-million-dollar turnover.

But now chief executive Tim Jones and his export partner Vince Brullo want more. Their dream is to have their cherries on the shelves of Tesco, Cold Storage and Giant supermarkets in downtown Kuala Lumpur. And until now, it was simply that — a fantasy.

Brullo, who runs export supplier Australia Fruits, says he and Jones have been working for two years to get a meeting with the Malaysian company they believe is critical to delivering on their dream. And last week it finally happened.

“We are after about two or three new customers. We do a bit of business in Malaysia already but we are after the bigger players,” Brullo says, standing in the packed ballroom of Kuala Lumpur’s Shangri-La Hotel.

Wandin Valley Farms is one of 85 small and medium-sized food and beverage companies that attended the mission to Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore as the Victorian government tries to become the food bowl of Asia.

Victoria accounts for about 30 per cent of all farm exports from Australia, including 20 per cent of the nation’s meat exports.

The Victorian government has set the lofty aim of doubling the state’s food production by 2030 and, as the major supermarkets in Australia increasingly squeeze suppliers, Walsh says the growth of export markets will be critical to achieving the goal.