Export 2030 – delivering fresh food fast : The opportunity to double high value food exports from Far North Queensland

  • Aquaculture
  • Beef
  • Horticulture
  • Strategic policy development
  • Supply chain development


The intent of this report was to identify opportunities to expand production growth and to broaden current export channels and markets for high value food products for FNQ. This included examining opportunities for value-added processing before export, which will reduce the effects of cyclical supply/demand impacts on grower returns, leading to more sustainable economic outcomes and stronger incentives for increased investment.

In conducting the research, the project focused on identifying, investigating, advancing and accelerating evidence-based opportunities for current and future export markets out of Northern Australia, particularly in relation to product leaving through FNQ via Cairns International Airport.

The focus was on high value perishable agricultural products that are viable for air freight export to priority international markets. This focused on four agricultural product categories that were analysed through the study. Additional high value products were considered and analysed at a high level, with the recognition that export opportunities are not and should not be limited to a finite list of products.

The primary export method addressed through the study was air freight from Cairns International Airport due to the time sensitive perishable nature of the high value products selected for analysis. Sea freight was also examined but was not the core focus of the study, including for example the chilled and frozen beef supply chain that is more conducive to sea freight given its prolonged shelf life and acknowledging the sugar industry sea freight exports from the FNQ region which contribute significantly to the region’s local economy and overall agricultural product export values.


Growth of agricultural exports from FNQ through enhanced supply chains

Growth of agricultural exports from FNQ through enhanced supply chains

Potential improvements and efficiencies in FNQ supply chains have not kept pace with recent substantial growth and diversification in the agriculture markets across the region (including fresh and value added), particularly bearing in mind the potential of the development of northern Australia. This has led to reduced realisation of economic opportunities in FNQ. To facilitate growth of agricultural exports from FNQ, this project will identify gaps that exist in the current supply chain and examine opportunities for FNQ producers to enter new export markets. The results of the project will inform planning for several catalytic projects in the region, including the Ports North master plan for the Cairns Marine Precinct, Cairns Airport aviation route development, FNQ Regional Organisation of Councils (FNQROC) roads and infrastructure planning, and a Regional Export Distribution Centre business case for Cairns

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