VIP flights put Aussie products back on the menu

The Government has secured a critical freight export route under its $110 million International Freight Assistance Mechanism that will see high quality Victorian lamb leave Melbourne for Abu Dhabi over the coming week.

Under the new agreement, three B787 Dreamliners packed with chilled lamb from Victorian lamb processors will make its way to Abu Dhabi with Australian lamb back on the menus across the Middle-East.

Minister for Trade, Simon Birmingham, said it was vital for Australian lamb producers to continue to get their products overseas even during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

“We know that disruptions to supply chains have made it hard for our red meat producers to get their chilled products into overseas markets in recent months,” Minister Birmingham said.

“With demand for Australian agricultural products like our lamb still strong, helping to support flights will allow our producers to continue to meet that demand.

“Securing these flights means our farmers can get their product back into our key export markets so we can keep more Australians in jobs and generate extra export dollars.”

Around 90 per cent of Australia’s red meat industry’s chilled goods are exported with a majority of it going to China, Japan and the Middle East.

In 2019, Australia exported $440 million of red meat via air freight half of which was chilled lamb destined for the Middle East.

While chilled goods are usually sent as cargo on passenger planes, the COVID-19 pandemic has seen the cancellation of many international and domestic flights.

As a result, Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud said it was encouraging to see flights ‘chock-a-block’ full of Australian lamb headed overseas.

 “Markets like the Middle East are key for Australia’s lamb producers and we need to make sure that our farmers can keep getting their product on planes,” Minister Littleproud said.

“We’re doing everything we can to back our farmers during these tough times.”

The initiative is part of the Government’s $1 Billion Relief and Recovery Fund to support regions, communities and industry sectors that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

Also included this initiative is an agreement that will see around 500 tonnes of West Australian rock lobster headed for China.

Under this new agreement, Western Australia’s Geraldton Fisherman’s Co-operative will pack 19 flights full of Western rock lobster onto planes out of Perth over the next two months.

The agreement has been deemed a lifeline for the industry who have been hardest hit by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“We recognise the current crisis is placing immense pressure on Western Australia’s seafood exporters, many of whom felt the earliest impacts when overseas demand began to dry up,” Minister Birmingham

“With demand from China starting to pick-up again, it’s crucial our fishers can get their high-quality product back into these export markets so we can keep more Western Australians in jobs and generate extra export dollars for the state.”



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