Tassie direct air freight to China plan mooted

Local MP is encouraging small producers to pool exports on a premium service to China

Tassie direct air freight to China plan mooted
Federal MP Eric Hutchinson


Tasmanian federal backbencher Eric Hutchinson is spruiking a potential air freight service between Tasmania and China.

He says a service, departing from either Hobart or Launceston, could create new markets for producers of high-value agricultural products, many of which have been too small to export previously.

A combined air service would allow the state’s primary industries to tell the unique story of their produce to a whole new market, he says. Producers of high quality red meat, dairy, and salmon products stand to benefit in particular – with the potential to sell to high-paying premium buyers, such as high-end restaurants and hotel chains.

Hutchinson says Tasmania’s deserved reputation for quality produce, but relatively lower volumes, are well suited to air freight.

While still more expensive than sea freight, the difference is outweighed by the premiums high quality produce can potentially gain in overseas markets.

"If Australia is the delicatessen, Tasmania is the shelf with the saffron," Hutchinson says.

"Consumers increasingly want to know the stories of their products – this would create another form of farm-gate market for Tasmania’s producers."

The use of air freight would also open up markets for producers of more perishable products. Houston’s Farm in southern Tasmania would be able to sell its well-known lettuces to markets that shipping would never allow, Hutchinson says as an example.

Hutchinson is currently getting stakeholders including the state government, the National Farmers’ Federation, and Regional Development Australia to meet on the possibility.

He says there is a coordinating role for the federal government to play, but once running the service would be between private interests.

It should also work in compliment with the existing Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme for freight moving between Tasmania and Melbourne.

Hutchison’s electorate of Lyons covers central the prime agricultural districts of central Tasmania.

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