WATCHING: Food and Agribusiness Network general manager Emma Greenhatch, centre, is eagerly waiting to see what flights will be direct into Asia from the new Sunshine Coast Airport.
WATCHING: Food and Agribusiness Network general manager Emma Greenhatch, centre, is eagerly waiting to see what flights will be direct into Asia from the new Sunshine Coast Airport. Warren Lynam

Producers ready to pounce if airport opportunities present

MEMBERS of the Sunshine Coast-based Food and Agribusiness Network are waiting with bated breath to see which freight paths into Asia will be carved out by the upgraded airport.

FAN general manager Emma Greenhatch said there was plenty of interest among the rapidly-growing network in seeing what freight opportunities would be created as part of the $347 million airport upgrades.

She said once the freight paths were settled, the network could come in behind those with an export strategy, in a bid to get high-end, perishable Coast product around the globe fast.

The network was currently focused on opportunities in China, but depending on the routes, if freight flights were reliable enough, there was no reason why niche Coast products couldn't be pushed into Asia by air.

She said it was a high-value product play which would probably be best suited to seafood and some dairy products.

"We do have niche, high-value products (rather than large-scale produce) on the Sunshine Coast,” Ms Greenhatch said.

Demand for top-end seafood was high in Asia and Ms Greenhatch said it was also sought after interstate.

She said one of their members, Walker Seafoods, a Mooloolaba-based tuna company, exported about 70 per cent of their product, while about 30 per cent of it was sent interstate, to high-end chefs in Sydney and Melbourne.

Ms Greenhatch said another advantage of flights into Asia from the Coast was the opportunity for direct, inbound access to the region for buyers' missions.

She said those trips often led to more investment in local businesses, while high-end tourists often also took an interest in regional food.

Food tourism, both domestic and international, was another sector Ms Greenhatch said increased flights would help grow.

She said the Coast was renowned nationally for its sustainable practices and produced a range of top quality products.



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