Golden age in agriculture

BRIGHT FUTURE: Premier Denis Napthine kept the "food bowl to Asia" idea at the front of mind during an address in Bendigo. Picture: JODIE DONNELLAN

BRIGHT FUTURE: Premier Denis Napthine kept the "food bowl to Asia" idea at the front of mind during an address in Bendigo. Picture: JODIE DONNELLAN

A PROJECTED three billion extra mouths to feed in 15 years in Asia means the future is positive for Victoria's primary producers.

In his address to the Food Boom Summit in Bendigo, Victorian Premier Denis Napthine said the state was ideally placed to capitalise on the growing consumer class in China.

"There will be another three billion people in the Asian community in the consumer class who will be making a decision about purchasing food on the basis of variety, protein and clean green food," he said.

"It will no longer be on the basis of price or necessity.

"That is our market."

Central Victorian agribusiness leaders discussed the challenges facing agriculture industries in the coming decades as part of the forum on Friday.

Victoria produces 86 per cent of Australia's dairy exports, worth almost $2 billion.

The state also produces 45 per cent of the country's lamb and mutton.

The forum had a strong focus on export opportunities into Asian markets, a topic Dr Napthine was keen to emphasise during his opening address.

It will no longer be on the basis of price or necessity. - Premier Denis Napthine

"We are in the same time zone, we are seen as a friendly people to do business with," he said.

"While the Chinese happily do business with America, they are competitive with America.

"But they see Victoria and Australia as long-term friends."

The free trade agreements with Malaysia, Indonesia and more recently with Japan and South Korea were also spoken about in earnest.

Dr Napthine said while the recent agreements were "not perfect", there were ample opportunities for high-quality Australian products  to reach the expanding market.

"Recently we've seen the first export of table grapes to Japan selling at $11 per kilo - three times the local price," he said.

"Mildura producers are very excited about the exports of table grapes next year."

Central Victorian Agribusiness Forum executive officer Martin Szakal said the event showed how producers could embrace coming opportunities.

"The overwhelming message and feedback is that those involved in agribusiness, being growers, producers and related service providers are keen to explore export opportunities," he said.

"However, it seems that more effort must go toward demystifying access to market and what resources and support is available to enable export capability."

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