VIP flights put Aussie products back on 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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