Beston Global Food: Sweet export dreams are made of cheese

Next time you eat a pizza in Thailand, chances are the delicious mozzarella topping comes from Australia’s Beston Global Food (ASX:BFC). The company inked a deal with KCG Corporation, one of Thailand’s top food importers, to supply its cheese for sale to consumers and the HORECA sector.

The partnership has proved so successful BFC and KCG recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding to develop more products for Thailand and other Southeast Asian markets. This arrangement will help accelerate BFC’s expansion across the region.

Austrade played matchmaker for BFC and KCG, organising for the two to meet at Fine Food Australia in 2019. Austrade also included BFC in an Australian food showcase across 143 Siam Makro stores. The promotion resulted in strong sales for BFC’s cheese.

‘We have a great relationship with Austrade,’ says Fabrizio Jorge, Beston Global Food’s CEO. ‘They have always been hands-on when it comes to in-market support. Their market insights and research were very useful in the early days. They’ve helped us navigate market access requirements and understand import tariffs. We know if we encounter any challenges in-market, we can rely on Austrade.’

A South Australian dairy powerhouse

BFC makes premium brands such as Edwards Crossing cheese, Mable cream cheese and Ei8h+ Water. It also manufactures lactoferrin and whey powders. Its subsidiary Provincial Food Group makes meat products for the local food retail and foodservice sectors. It has 2 dairy processing facilities in South Australia, and a meat processing facility in Victoria. In 2021, the Financial Times ranked BFC the second fastest-growing food and beverage company in the Asia-Pacific region and the fastest in Australia.

BFC sources 90% of its milk (around 30–40% of South Australia’s total milk production) from local farmers. The rest comes from Victorian farmers. Around 5 years ago, it was sourcing around 20 million litres of milk per year. Today, it sources around 160 million litres a year.

‘As the state’s biggest dairy processor, we’re proud to support South Australian farmers,’ says Jorge.

Forging partnerships at Fine Food Australia

BFC exports approximately 30% of its dairy production to markets including China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, EU, and Thailand. While export has always been a focus, in the last 12 months the business has made exporting a long-term strategic commitment.

One of its top markets is Thailand, where it has had a presence since 2020. ‘Thailand is an exciting market for us,’ says Jorge. ‘It was a huge tourism destination before the pandemic, and things are picking up again. Thai consumers are also embracing dairy products.’

BFC met its Thai distributor KCG Corporation at Fine Food Australia (FFA) in 2019. FFA is Australia’s leading trade event for the food industry. It attracts visitors from around Australia and the world. Prior to the 2019 event, KCG contacted Austrade asking to meet with dairy manufacturers. Austrade organised for BFC to meet KCG at the event.

‘Austrade’s business-matching service is fantastic – we knew we were meeting a distributor with a genuine interest in our products,’ says Jorge. ‘Trade shows like FFA are also a great way to showcase your products, share your story and connect with potential customers.’

Packet of shredded mozzarella and gourmet cheese board

Thai distributor to turbocharge exports

BFC exports cheese in bulk format to KCG. KCG then shreds the cheese to make mozzarella. The product is packaged and distributed to hotels, restaurants, cafes and supermarkets.

‘Different markets have different preferences when it comes to mozzarella,’ says Jorge. ‘In Thailand we worked intensively with our and KCG’s R&D teams to finesse the bulk cheese, so the end product is what the Thai market wants.’

In June 2022, BFC and KCG signed a Memorandum of Understanding. Under the MoU, KCG will become a strategic investor in BFC and the exclusive distributor of BFC products in Thailand. It will also see the 2 companies developing more products for Thailand and other Southeast Asian markets. The 2 companies have already developed mozzarella for other Southeast Asian markets.

Making an impression in the HORECA sector

Austrade was also instrumental in BFC securing a supply deal with Siam Makro, a major retail chain similar to Costco. Siam Makro bought BFC cheese in bulk and repackaged it under its HORECA brand as part of a major promotion.

The promotion aimed to highlight Australian fine food to consumers and the HORECA sector. It ran at over 140 Siam Makro stores in May 2022. The promotion was supported by an Australian Fine Foods catalogue available at Siam Makro stores and its online sales channel.

‘It’s invaluable having an Austrade representative in Bangkok,’ says Jorge. ‘They bring their local knowledge to help us understand the unique requirements of the market.’

BFC will continue to pursue opportunities in Thailand and across Southeast Asia. It is also exploring opportunities in Japan and Korea.

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