As industries throughout the country struggle with the challenges of doing business in a Covid environment, the decade of work that Katikati firm, Darling Group, have put into markets throughout Asia are finally paying off.
Jacob Darling, general manager of Group Sales and Marketing, says the 2021 season remains on track.
“Week 40 marks a significant milestone for the Darling Group team. We are now sitting at 40 percent of our total volume picked, packed and on the water.”
Darling Group have been exporting to Asia for close to 10 years now. A combination of strong campaigns involving engaging with customers, influencers, and in-market advertising companies has enabled them to expand their exports into this region year-on-year.
“Of the 300,000 trays picked this season, 220,000 trays, or 73 per cent of the crop has been dispatched to Asia. The difference has found its way to Australian retailers and into the domestic market,” says Jacob.
“Our plan for the 2021 harvest was to place 70 percent of the total crop into Asian markets, so we’re well on track to achieve that despite global shipping delays.”
The markets that Darling Group predominantly operates in across Asia are China, Korea, Thailand, and Hong Kong.
“China and Korea are set up to take the bulk of the Asian volume for the group, however all markets in the region contribute significantly to the overall value of the export programme,” says Jacob.
“We are extremely mindful that there is a significant amount of ‘water to still go under the bridge’, but the silver lining remains that we are within a few thousand trays of our goal.”
“Pleasingly, Asia continues to return a premium over Australia, with the benefit of a short USA market allowing significantly less Mexican volume into our primary markets across Asia which has assisted with firm pricing in there,” says Jacob.
Seasonal fluctuations are of course a major hurdle for all horticultural operations.
“Quality and dry matter is one to watch! With dry matter levels creeping up every week across all regions this is something that our team is monitoring on a weekly basis.
“The challenge is that we will come under timing pressure to pick and pack large volumes to tie in with sea freight schedules to Asia. Our priority is to get crop picked, packed, and sold, with the aim of being 65 to 70 percent through by week 45,” says Jacob.
While Asian markets are growing from strength to strength, Jacob notes the Australian market is more challenging than in previous seasons.
“The Australian market continues to be under pressure. Supply chain delays, domestic over-supply and Covid-19 in New South Wales and Victoria are all elements that are making it extremely tough in the Australian retail market and as a result we are redirecting fruit to other channels,” says Jacob.