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Honey flowing to Middle East

WA honey producer Wescobee is enjoying sweet success in the Middle East, recently signing an export deal with Jordan.

Wescobee CEO and international business manager Eduard Planken said the company’s entry into the Jordan market arose from an Austrade-organised tour of the Middle East to research the potential of exporting live queen bees into the region.

“We found international companies selling their products into local supermarkets and I thought ‘we can do that’,” Mr Planken said.

Mr Planken said half a million dollars worth of Wescobee products were now being sold into the Jordanian market per annum, with the potential to increase to $1 million to $2 million.

“Our export earnings have increased 50 per cent since last year so we are pretty pleased,” he said.

“However, it is hard work and if other Australian companies wish to be successful in exporting their products, they have to ‘walk the boards’. You have to get out there and visit the market.

“We’ve had an excellent response to our products in Jordan and we’re positioning ourselves to do more in the region.”

Mr Planken said the Regional Forest Agreement was “going to be a continued problem” with regard to the production of karri and jarrah honeys.

“The agreement leaves a lot to be desired – from a beekeeping point of view it’s just a joke,” he said.

“We’re not getting good commercial crops of karri honey presently. It’s been a trickle over the past seven to eight years.

“Now it looks as if jarrah crops are going to go the same way.

“The option that has been taken involves the most cutting, and even now they’re swapping blocks for those which may not be productive for a number of years.

“Bees are the major pollinator for agriculture – which is why we brought them here in the first place. It’s been estimated the value of crop pollination alone from bees is worth $1.2 billion a year Australia-wide.”

Agriculture WA estimate the value of crop pollination by bees in WA alone at $89 million per year.

Recent studies indicate Australian companies are increasing business in the Middle East. Australian exports reached $4.5 billion in 1997, which represents an increase of 29 per cent over the previous year.

Key opportunities in the region include bulk agricultural products such as wheat, barley, sugar, dairy products and meat, mining, oil, gas and petrochemicals.

Many Australian companies are currently negotiating on projects involving exploration, development of new fields or development and rectification of existing fields.

Consulting and services are in demand in the region, and Austrade is presently investigating niche opportunities for elaborately transformed manufactures including communications and control equipment for the oil industry.

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