While this is no doubt an opportunity for Australian producers it does highlight the ongoing challenge of gaining market access, a reality that is at least another two to three years away for Australian avocados.
Social media is also enabling new ecommerce start-ups such as Shanghai-based FreshFresh, which was established in 2014 and uses WeChat to market and sell its products.
The company’s aim is to deliver fresher and safer food (using refrigerated trucks for delivery) at an affordable price and it currently sells Australian dairy, citrus and grapes.
Many of FreshFresh’s one million registered uses are what FreshFresh Co-founder Adrian Fang refers to as Shanghai’s mature middle class.
“Unlike new entrants to China’s middle class who might make a luxury purchase such as a car to show they’ve made it, the mature middle class are travelling frequently,” Fang says. “They are therefore more westernised with a growing desire for better-quality food.”
Ecommerce and its potential for Australian agriculture, is only just beginning. Consumer preferences and demand, marketing, production volumes and working with the right distribution partners, will be some of the major considerations for industry.
Excitingly, however, it can enable greater access to China’s growing middle class and the ability to compete in the world’s largest market for fresh food - which may soon be just one click away for Australian farmers.
James McKeefry is State Agriculture Manager, Victoria and Tasmania at ANZ