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Aussie food brands spy Asia growth

News, 23 March 2015

SYDNEY: A number of Australian food brands recently acquired by Asian companies are likely to be introduced into Asian markets for the first time as affluent consumers there demand premium quality.

The development will be welcome news for the Australian groceries sector, which has already benefitted from steady expansion into key Asian markets over the past decade.

But this time exports could increase with support from Asian investors searching for new opportunities, the Australian Financial Review reported.

Just this month, two iconic Australian food companies were taken over. Goodman Fielder, the country's largest listed food manufacturer, was acquired in a $1.3bn deal by Singapore-based Wilmar International and Hong Kong-based First Pacific.

A week earlier, Monde Nissin, one of the largest food companies in the Philippines, took over Menora Foods, a privately owned firm in Western Australia that makes the popular Wattle Valley dips.

Chris O'Sullivan, chief executive of Monde Nissin Australia, explained that there's an emerging middle class in Asia, which has a strong affiliation with Australia and is looking for the same things.

"[But] they just can't find it in their supermarkets. Premium brands in Asia can sell for double the price they sell for in Australia," he said.

The perception that Australian-made goods are "premium" is absolutely crucial, he added.

"The key thing from Monde Nissin's perspective is the premium-ness of the product, so they're keen for them to be manufactured in Australia. It adds to the premium-ness of the brand – anything made locally tends to be diminished in value."

His comments were echoed by Robin Nicolson, an executive director at First Pacific and the new chairman of Goodman Fielder.

"This is an opportunity to ramp it up," he said. "If we can see an opportunity to take successful, well-established Australian and New Zealand brands and push them into Asia we're going to seize that."

Data sourced from Australian Financial Review; additional content by Warc staff