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Selfridge push pays dividends

GRACING the gourmet shelves of British glamour store Selfridges is starting to pay marketing dividends for WA food and wine.

Not only are repeat orders flowing from Selfridges - to more than two dozen different suppliers – but other European markets are beckoning.

The promotion in late 1999 enabled 54 WA producers to showcase their goods in the big retailer’s London and Manchester foodhalls and restaurants.

The promotion and other trade exhibitions in Britain at the time – marketing Western Australia – The Land of Plenty – were organised by the Department of Commerce and Trade and the WA Government’s European office.

In the ensuing 13 months, Selfridges has re-ordered significant quantities of our product – including rock lobsters, reef fish, lamb, New Norcia nutcake, honey and 39 different wines.

This gives WA producers a magnificent showcase in Britain. It also has the potential to open new sales doors in mainland Europe, where the food trade is well aware of Selfridges’ status as Britain’s premier food retailer, having overtaken long-time leader Harrods.

In the 12 months since the promotion, exhibitors Fremantle Fishermen’s Co-operative and M.G. Kailis have built up new lobster markets in France, against some fierce competition.

Other producers are also eyeing European markets. Local ostrich meat producer Syarrum went to a Paris food expo this year – and landed a new Dutch market for the delicacy, said to have a taste and texture similar to veal.

The UK has always been WA’s best overseas market for wine. Significantly, these sales have more than doubled in the last three years, reaching $6.6 million in 1999-2000.

These successes are richly deserved by local companies, who work diligently to ensure their products reach overseas markets in prime condition.

Food and beverages are now a $5 billion industry in this State, and Commerce and Trade works closely with industry representatives to further develop the export side of this business.

This year, for example, as well as providing financial assistance to individual companies to help them explore markets, the department collaborated with industry organisations to produce a comprehensive WA Guide to Exporting Food and Beverage Products.

* Richard Muirhead, is chief executive officer of the Department of Commerce and Trade

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