If there's one theme of the century for regional Australia it is the Asian middle class, according to Associate Professor Ben Lyons for Rural Economies at the University of Southern Queensland.
Research done by the Brooking Institution says an estimated two billion people are part of the Asian middle class, set to rise to 3.5 billion people by 2030.
Prof Lyons said 'Brand Australia' is incredibly desirable to the Asian consumer.
"The connection of Australia's high quality product is very strong to Asia's premium restaurant markets," he said.
"The Australian brand is probably about 80 per cent of the story to the consumer and as the Asian market evolves to appreciate more sustainable practices you will see products grow off their own branding."
Prof Lyons said Australia was still looking for it's 'champagne story', and flagged that the red meat sector seems to be the first at the door for creating an internationally recognised premium product.
"We are still looking for our champagne story in Australia, we have our sparkling wine, we just haven't gotten to that point of being considered champagne," he said.
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"Red meat is leading the pack with their Brand Australia marketing. We're seeing rural products go up 11pc month to month, year on year."
COVID-19 has ended the jet-setting behaviour of most exporting ventures, with meetings with potential foreign retailers often taking place over Zoom. Prof Lyons said this presents a new challenge for the exporters.
"All trade relations are relationships, and good relations are usually made from person to person," Prof Lyons said.
"Building relationships in an environment with no travel is going to be a challenge for all businesses. It's great that we in Australia have a mature network that work with Trade and Invest Queensland to introduce them into key markets.
"Ultimately for businesses however, they will still need to foster strong relationships."
Prof Lyons said that more than any other export, the rising Asian middle class will need food.
"The Asian middle-class presents a big opportunity for value adding to our regional and rural economies. There is a question on how long will iron ore and coal will prop up our exports markets."
- courtesy Queensland Country Life.
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