Asia warms to Aussie Freeze-dried foods
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Steeped in a rich family heritage of farming and food production, The
Forager Foods Co. is one of Australia’s leading freeze-dried food
producers. Thanks to Australia’s North Asia Free Trade Agreements, the
company is now expanding its business to international markets.
The Forager Foods Co. has been freeze-drying locally sourced produce since
2009. Located in Tasmania’s northern town of Deloraine, the company
preserves various fruits, vegetables and herbs at its world-class facility,
turning them into snack foods, dried meals and cooking powders.
Over the past nine years, The Forager Foods Co. has successfully
established itself in the domestic market, supplying a selection of
products to the IGA network and major supermarket chains across Australia.
The company currently employs 16 people who help produce its range of over
Asia’s demand for Australian produce
Looking to expand the business to international markets, The Forager Foods
Co. began exporting to Asia a few years ago.
Managing Director John Ranicar says growing demand and word-of-mouth
initially led the company to explore markets within the region.
‘As our products became better known in Australia, many of our customers
began sending them back to friends and family in Asia, increasing overseas
enquiries from distributors and customers,’ he says.
‘With the increased interest, we decided to attend Australia Week in China
(with Austrade) to get a sense of the market’s demands and to meet with
potential distributors and partners. This helped us identify a big
opportunity in Asia and reaffirm the company’s decision to start exporting
to the region.’
Since then, The Forager Foods Co. has secured exports to China and Japan,
which Ranicar says will continue to provide economic growth for the
‘We are only new to the game, but already exports represent almost 10 per
cent of our overall revenue. As we continue to expand our international
presence in the coming years, we hope to see this figure increase to 50 per
cent,’ he says.
FTAs opening the door to global markets
Australia’s Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with North Asia have played a key
role in The Forager Foods Co’s export journey, reducing tariffs on a number
of its products.
Under the China-Australia FTA (ChAFTA), the tariff on freeze-dried products
has dropped from 30 per cent to six per cent. Similarly, the
Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA) has reduced the
tariff from 12 per cent to two per cent. The tariff on freeze-dried
products is due to be eliminated on 1 January 2019 under both ChAFTA and
Ranicar says tariff reductions under Australia’s FTAs have provided
significant benefits to The Forager Foods Co. and given the company a
competitive advantage among other market players.
‘Many countries in Asia currently apply high tariffs on freeze-dried
products, making them less affordable for our customers,’ he says.
‘The tariff reductions are extremely important to our business as they
allow us to lower the cost of our products, provide us with a competitive
edge in selling to that market and help us grow the company through
Ranicar says the FTAs have also helped raise awareness of the company’s
products, especially in China.
‘ChAFTA has done a great job in driving interest among Australian goods
in China,’ he says. ‘This has helped our products enter the market with
Attention to detail is key
The export process hasn’t always been easy for The Forager Foods Co., with
Ranicar admitting the company faced a steep learning curve when exporting
its first shipment to Asia.
‘On one of our first deliveries to Asia, we mistakenly included the wrong
documentation which resulted in the delivery being shipped back to
Australia,’ he says.
‘We had accidently listed the products under the wrong HS code because at
the time there wasn’t a code available for our product to be listed under.’
Ranicar says the company was able to resolve the issue, but it did result
in a delay to its shipment.
‘It took us six months, working with DFAT and Customs to establish a new HS
code and get the correct documentation before we could export our product,’
‘We have now learnt to double-check all our paperwork before any shipment
is sent off.’
Visit your market frequently
For others considering exporting, Ranicar says it’s important to make
frequent visits to the market before entering into any business deals.
‘Be sure to buy a plane ticket and set foot in the country before making
any decisions,’ he says.
‘This allows you to get a feel for the market, meet with potential
distributors, partners and customers and troubleshoot any issues that may
To learn more about ChAFTA, visit
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