A MOUNT Gambier based manufacturing business will this month export an organic growing system to China in a transaction valued at over $1m.
It was all systems go at Grow Systems Australia this week as the company prepared to ship the components of its ‘moving gully system’ to the Anhui Province of China in 10, 40ft shipping containers.
The moving gully system was successfully implemented at Holla-Fresh in Tantanoola and a targeted marketing campaign has since piqued the interest of a number of prospective buyers in China.
A deal two years in the making, company director Mark Lines said the export could be a watershed moment for the technology.
“This is the first time we have exported the moving gully system to China and I know there are quite a few prospective buyers sitting in the wings waiting to see how this goes before they commit to buying the system themselves,” Mr Lines said.
“The buyer is quite a wealthy man and he’s essentially the guinea pig for everyone else – I think once these other interested parties see this technology successfully installed we could secure a number of export deals.”
The moving gully system is a growing field built to suit the specifications of a greenhouse, in which growing herbs move automatically from the planting area to the harvesting area in above-ground containers.
The plants are fed by a recirculating water system and the entire cultivation process involves minimal manual labour.
“Right now there is a growing concern about food safety and China is moving away from growing in the ground because it’s contaminated,” Mr Lines said.
“This container type system is organic, improves growing efficiency by almost 50pc and on top of that it reduces labour costs.”
Mr Lines said he had persevered for two years to secure the export and encouraged other local businesses to build relationships within the China market.
“This has been in the making for two years and it was a hard slog to get to this point – I didn’t think it would ever happen but here we are,” he said.
“Market saturation can be an issue in Australia and there can be real value in accessing the China market – Australians have a strong reputation over there for being trustworthy business partners.
“Since I visited China in 2005 access to the market is less complicated.”
Mount Gambier City Council investment attraction manager Bruce Rodda said council aimed to recruit 10 to 12 regional businesses to attend a planned delegation to China in October.
“We are keen to build on the success of our March regional engagement,” Mr Rodda said.
“Attracting regional businesses to support and participate in a China delegation will be achieved by a collaborative effort between local councils.
Asian Agribusiness Consulting managing director Michael Boddington met with regional councils this week to discuss preparation for the outbound delegation.
“The China market is so big, what I try to do on the ground in Beijing is ensure like businesses meet with like businesses when they arrive,” Mr Boddington said.
“The key is ensuring you understand what your business partner wants – most ventures fall down due to unbalanced expectation.”
Meanwhile, Grow Systems Australia’s deal could be a win for another local company, with Mr Lines indicating he would likely engage United International Container Services to export the system.
“We will probably use United, there is nothing in writing yet but that’s our plan,” Mr Lines said.
“It’s really convenient and really helps us having that option right there, that way the components are not double handled, everything goes straight onto the container and onto the boat which is so important.”