By Roger Jaensch
For many Chinese, Tasmania is, literally, the land of milk and honey.
Our State’s beautiful environment, rich fertile soils, cleanest air on earth and gentle, temperate climate makes Tasmanian produce the envy of many.
This is particularly true of our dairy products which are among the best in the world and sought after by the growing Asian market.
Tasmania’s North West Coast is home to the best dairy farms in the world. Among them are the former Van Diemen’s Land Company farms, now owned by Moon Lake Investments.
When Moon Lake took over earlier this year, the company outlined plans for $100 million in investment and expansion, creating an additional 95 jobs.
Late last month a significant step in this expansion took place, a step that I believe in future years will be seen as a game-changer for our dairy industry and trade relations with China.
Moon Lake’s sister company launched a new milk brand – VAN Milk. This premium-priced milk product, produced from the lush pastures of the North West will soon be distributed fresh, direct to China.
What makes this deal extraordinary is that VAN will underwrite a weekly air link between Tasmania and Ningbo in China and export 10 million litres annually of fresh Tasmanian milk.
It’s important to note that this is only about 10 per cent of their total local production, leaving plenty of milk for us locals.
These flights, the first of their kind, will carry other high quality perishable Tasmania food and create an extraordinary opportunity for Tasmanian premium exporters into China.
Conceivably, VAN can become a key trade bridge partner for other Tasmanian exporters, taking advantage of VAN’s established distribution channels, warehousing, cold chain logistics and significant business introductions.
The Hodgman Liberal Government through the Office of the Coordinator-General has been instrumental in developing this opportunity.
In the last decade, milk production in Tasmania has grown by more than 40 per cent and investment in irrigation infrastructure around the State has created opportunities to expand existing farms and start new dairy enterprises.
VAN predicts the creation of new jobs in processing and exporting as well as opportunities for all Tasmanian producers of fresh, perishable produce such as seafood, fruit and vegetables.
It will start with one weekly round trip early in the new year increasing in frequency to two or three times a week a year after it commences.
Another significant step in improving Tasmanian exports was DP World’s announcement last week it will proceed with its planning for an international container terminal at the Port of Burnie – a further sign of growing confidence in Tasmania’s economy.
The planned $75 million project will improve the port’s container capacity and open the port up to additional international container shipping lines.
DP World have said about 40 new positions will be created to operate the terminal, expanding over time.
As part of the development, exporters will be able to ship directly overseas, and DP World has indicated the cost of exports to key destinations will be cut by 40 per cent.
Our primary producers and local agribusinesses will have easier and more competitive access to the world’s markets, where they will be able to capitalise on the sale of their world-renowned products in the global marketplace.
Both the VAN and DP World developments are transformational for our State. Each will help us reverse the so-called “tyranny of distance” that has held us back in the past – turning a disadvantage into a competitive advantage.