Regional Highlight

Lavender farm courts China

Using new skills and connections obtained through RDA Murraylands and Riverland’s pilot Export Development Program, Brayfield Park Lavender Farm is planning a major expansion in response to a formal offer from a Chinese buyer.

The innovative Export Development Program has helped seven local SMEs explore their options to capitalise on the growing demand in Asian markets for premium food, beverage and experiences.

One successful graduate, Brayfield Park Lavender Farm, joined the program after an offer was put on the table from a Chinese cosmetics buyer on a delegation hosted by RDAMR. Says co-owner Rhona Parker-Benton, “[the offer] forced us to evaluate how we do things – how we produce things, volumes, etc – and it’s opened up a world of opportunity.”

“[The program] gave us enough background to know where to channel our efforts and find out if export is the right thing for us.”

Rhona said that before the program, “we had been approached a number of times to export really large quantities – way outside what we could provide. We know now that we can ramp up, and that we can ramp up quite quickly.”

When businesses start exporting in Asia, cultural differences in terms of marketing, communications and etiquette can be difficult to overcome without the guiding hand of experience.

Rhona says she valued “learning about the pitfalls from people who’d been there and done that, and learning about Chinese culture so we didn’t offend anyone.”

Gaining far more than skills and knowledge, participants received extra help to overcome their market barriers, and had supported introductions to potential buyers.

“We’ve had so much help from Jo [RDAMR CEO] and Kane [program facilitator], it’s just phenomenal. It wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for their support.”

Jo Podoliak says that RDA Murraylands and Riverland is “committed to helping regional businesses expand into overseas markets, which we know can be a daunting experience.”

“Our supporting initiatives are outlined in our updated China and Asia Trade and Investment Engagement Strategy. To mention a couple, we continually advocate for regional trade barriers to be addressed, and host delegations and trade shows that expose our region’s produce to the world.”

Your Next Step...

“The program gave us enough background to know where to channel our efforts and find out if export is the right thing for us.”

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