WA in Hong Kong push

WA in Hong Kong push

WA will use Hong Kong as an entree to a main course in mainland China as part of its plans to double the value of the State's farm and food exports to about $12 billion a year over the next decade.

Part of the recipe for success involves using Hong Kong to establish brand recognition and premium pricing for high- quality food and beverage products produced in WA.

The WA trade office in Shanghai and the Department of Agriculture and Food WA believe this will put local exporters in a strong position as tariffs are phased out under the free trade agreement between Beijing and Canberra. The trade office has already helped broker a deal with a big Hong Kong supermarket chain for WA to build on its reputation for top-shelf food exports.

The 759 Store chain looks set to have dedicated WA aisles in its outlets in a major boost for local farmers, fishermen and food and beverage processors.

Agriculture Minister Ken Baston has just returned from a trade mission to Japan and Hong Kong which included talks on the initiative, dubbed WA2HK.

Mr Baston confirmed the meetings were part of a broader approach by the State Government to target Hong Kong as a gateway market to China.

"My meeting with 759 Store director Ida Tang confirmed that the 759 retail concept, with its social media marketing focus and 247 stores, will result in the opportunity for greater sales for WA produce," he said.

"Hong Kong is a high-value and vibrant market for WA. It's just the kind of market we want to support our premium food producers to strive towards."

Hong Kong has a population of about 8 million people but more than 40 million people from mainland China visit each year. Part of the WA plan revolves around mainland Chinese getting a taste for WA brands in Hong Kong.

WA producers will be in the spotlight this week at Hong Kong's trade show HOFEX. They are also scheduled to meet 759 Store executives about stocking WA produce. "The expo is one of the largest food, beverage and hospitality trade exhibitions in Asia and provides an opportunity to connect with potential buyers, build relationships and grow exports," Mr Baston said.

DAFWA will lead a contingent of 22 companies with produce ranging from wine, honey and seafood to baked goods and bush foods.

WA's exports to Hong Kong were valued at $124.3 million in 2013-14 with pearls ($68 million) and rock lobster ($15.2 million) topping the list.

In Japan, Mr Baston met Minister of Agriculture Yoshimasa Hayashi to discuss increased trade opportunities with WA.

Some of the lesser known advantages in Australia's free trade agreement with Japan included the immediate scrapping of tariffs on many vegetables, including carrots and potatoes. Tariffs on truffles, mangoes and nuts were also scrapped.