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Pioneering Queensland vegetable growers win over South Korea

A delegation of Queensland vegetable growers recently travelled to Seoul, South Korea, to better understand the supply-chain and identify opportunities for exporting Queensland vegetables to South Korea. 

The Queensland delegation at “EMart” Headquarters. 

The tour was part of a project managed by Lockyer Valley Growers Inc, funded by Austrade through the Free Trade Agreement Training Provider Program and titled “Understanding KAFTA and enhancing capability to export vegetables to Korea”. The project was supported by Bowen Gumlu Growers Association, Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetables Growers and the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF). 

South Korea is Asia’s fifth largest economy and imports more than 70% of its food and agricultural products. The Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement (KAFTA) which started in December 2014 reduces trade and investment barriers and helps level the playing field for Australian exporters competing with those from the USA, Europe, Chile and ASEAN countries. 

Until recently, confusion in Australia existed about whether broccoli and other leafy green vegetables had market access into South Korea. Korean authorities confirmed access in August this year and the first trial shipment of Australian Broccoli landed in Seoul in late August. 

Clem Hodgman (Barden Produce) with the Onsen Company

The delegation on the tour consisted of Clem Hodgman (Barden Produce), Desley Jackwitz (Wilmay Farms), Cherry Emerick (Bowen Glumlu Growers Association), Kees Versteeg (Qualipac), Trevor Pezet (Wavertree Farms), Allan Mahoney (Multikraft and Chairman of Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers) along with Clinton McGrath and Bronwyn Ford both from DAF. 

Clem Hodgman, from Barden Produce and member of Lockyer Valley Growers Inc said “It was a great delegation with a mix of growers and meeting so many potential customers has been fantastic. Every minute was well used and productive”. 

The extensive itinerary, coordinated with support from Austrade and Trade and Investment Queensland, involved meeting importers and supermarket fresh produce buyers as well as trade officials. Samples of Queensland fresh vegetables, including lettuce, broccoli, spinach, kale, cauliflower and cabbages were showcased during these meetings. 

“It has been brilliant that the three Queensland grower groups have worked together on this project. Collectively the Queensland vegetable industry is worth about $1.3 billion so that is a great message to share with importers and buyers” said Cherry Emmerick from Bowen Gumlu Growers Association. 

Seoul, the capital of South Korea, is home to 26 million people and they appreciate the clean, green and safe reputation that Australian-grown vegetables have. Allan Mahoney, from Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers added “This tour highlighted that now is a great opportunity to capitalise on the reduction of import tariffs across many vegetable crops as a result of the KAFTA. The relationships that we established during the week long tour may provide strong industry outcomes for Queensland and Australian vegetable growers in the near future”. 

A fact sheet on KAFTA and the opportunities for vegetable growers has been developed and can be downloaded at

For further information: 
Michael Sippel
Lockyer Valley Growers 
Tel: +61 0418 479 062
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