Mulwarra Export Pty Limited (Mulwarra) is one of Australia’s premier meat and speciality food exporters. Based in Sydney, the company currently supplies a large percentage of Australia’s lamb exports to India.
With the new Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (AI-ECTA), in force from 29 December 2022, Mulwarra plans to expand business and export more products to the region.
‘AI-ECTA will make our lamb much more competitive in Indian markets,’ says Regional Manager, Sam Rodgers. ‘We hope to diversify from 5-star restaurants into high-end retailers. The tariff reductions will help us increase our volumes.
‘Our importer is very excited by the trade deal. They want to import a greater range of products through Mulwarra.’
Mulwarra began trading in meat in 1997. Today, it trades in a wide variety of goods, from lamb cuts, wagyu beef and game meat to seafood, speciality cheeses and charcuterie.
The company has become a leading exporter of premium foodstuffs, and it now sells in approximately 35 countries worldwide.
Mulwarra prides itself on its premium, clean green brand. Much of its food is traceable to farmland in the rolling hills of the Central Tablelands, in southern New South Wales.
The company began exporting lamb to India in 2016. In seven years, the company has steadily built its business.
‘India is a massive market,’ says Rodgers. ‘It’s also changing quickly. There’s a fast-growing middle class with more disposable income. And today, there are lots of 5-star restaurants who are using our brand.’
Initially, Mulwarra mostly exported lamb racks and other premium cuts. The company shipped containers in 2018 and again in 2019. COVID caused huge disruption, but in 2022 volumes rose again. As growth accelerated, Rodgers observed a new trend.
‘The younger generation in India are on social media,’ he says. ‘They see celebrities eating Australian lamb and it makes them want to cook at home. Our addressable market keeps getting bigger.’
Rodgers says the new free trade agreement will help grow exports. India’s 30% tariff on imported lamb will fall to zero for Australian exporters from 29 December 2022.
‘The tariff elimination means a lower entry price into the market,’ says Rodgers. ‘This should translate into more local demand and increased supply.
‘Lower entry prices mean we are far more competitive with New Zealand lamb, for instance. Whereas currently we mostly sell to 5-star restaurants, the trade deal will provide opportunities to shift into more price sensitive markets like retail.’
Rodgers believes volumes will increase. The tariff reduction should mean the company can sell also more cuts. If the company can sell more cuts, than it can export more of the carcass increasing productivity.
‘As the tariff disappears, hopefully our lamb shoulders will become competitive,’ he says. ‘If we can increase the number of cuts we sell, we can increase volumes, efficiency and overall price competitiveness.’
Rodgers says exporting to India has plenty of challenges. However, Austrade provides practical day-to-day advice that helps Mulwarra navigate the compliance landscape.
‘Austrade’s India-based advisers talk to my importers,’ he says. ‘They keep me up to date on the labelling required by Indian customers. When needed, they get clarification to make sure we have the proper requirements in place for our customers importing into India.
‘If we have any issues with documentation, we can check with Austrade advisers. Ultimately, they provide assurance that we are abiding by Indian customs requirements.’
Mulwarra is now into its seventh year in India. Rodgers says there are major challenges, but the AI-ECTA will help Mulwarra to branch into whole new markets.
‘It takes a lot of hard work and perseverance to get your product into India,’ he says. ‘You have to have a good relationship with your importer. And then there are all sorts of challenges in how your product is treated – and how your marketing is designed to address the needs of different segments.’
But Rodgers says the trade agreement is already working its magic.
‘Our importer is very excited by the trade deal,’ he says. ‘Previously they were only interested in our lamb but now they are asking about other high-end foodstuffs. They want us to have a crack at cheese and pastries as well — and see what sticks. Why not?’