08/05/2007 - 22:00

Macau worth a nibble for exporters

08/05/2007 - 22:00

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Western Australian premium food and beverage companies are targeting lucrative export sales to the small Chinese territory of Macau as the flurry of international investment into new hotels and casinos in the territory presents strong demand for WA niche

Western Australian premium food and beverage companies are targeting lucrative export sales to the small Chinese territory of Macau as the flurry of international investment into new hotels and casinos in the territory presents strong demand for WA niche products.

Macau is dubbed the ‘Las Vegas of Asia’, and the liberalisation of the territory’s casino industry in 2002 led to an influx of US, Asian and Australian capital investment into the region, fuelling Macau’s rapidly growing economy and thriving tourism industry.

Macau, which covers an area of just more than 28 square kilometres, is expected to experience “astronomical growth”, according to Austrade’s Hong Kong-based Acting Senior Trade Commissioner Mark Wood.

In all, 10 new hotel complexes will open during the next three years, including the $1.8 billion 3000-room Venetian Hotel development in late 2007.

Tourist numbers to the region are expected to grow from 20 million in 2006 to 28 million by 2010, once all of the new hotel developments come online.

Mr Wood said the conditions in Macau presented enormous opportunities for premium WA food and beverage businesses.

High-end niche products such as premium wines, wagyu beef, seafood and truffles are highly sought after by the region’s food service industry, particularly in the restaurants of the five- and six-star hotels.

According to Austrade, Australia’s exports to Macau have increased by 28 per cent since 2002.

“What we’re seeing at the moment is just the tip of the iceberg,” Mr Wood told WA Business News.

“We’re going to see rapid growth within the next three years as hotels come online.”

Mr Wood said the high level of service associated with the five- and six-star ratings meant hotels looked for suppliers who could provide a high level of level of food safety and guarantee reliability of supply all year round.

“We don’t have to convince them of the quality of Australian products. For quality items, they’re prepared to pay a good price,” he said.

Perth-based Silco International Pty Ltd director Marc Hofstein, who is the agent in Hong Kong and Macau for local food and beverage companies including Cambinata Live Yabbies and Margaret River Premium Meat Exports, said his hotel and restaurant clients demanded high-quality niche products of the kind developed in Western Australia.

“My clients are predominantly at the premium quality end, the five to six-star hotel business. They’re looking for the top range of quality products, which are available all year round,” he said.

Silco will be looking to add two more WA food and beverage companies to its Macau exporters list in the coming months.

Manjimup-based Wine and Truffle Company expects to start exporting to Macau this season, supplying 50 kilograms of truffles worth about $150,000.

Hamilton Hill-based olive company Donvica will showcase its gourmet olive products at the HOFEX 2007 food and hospitality trade show in Hong Kong to establish its product in the market and obtain supply contracts in Macau.

Cambinata Yabbies managing director Mary Nenke said demand for her yabbies and marron in the Hong Kong/Macau market had increased in recent years, with the company’s range of value-added products also experiencing an upsurge in demand.

“It’s a very strong market at the moment. It’s steady, consistent and reliable. Whereas other export market, like all markets, can have its ups and downs,” she said.

In addition to opportunities for food and beverage businesses, Austrade’s Mark Wood said Macau also presented strong opportunities for businesses in construction, interior design and furnishings, surveillance and security systems and education and training services.

Courses in hospitality management and waiting and food service were expected to be in high demand, he said.

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