Biosecurity at the heart of Vietnam trip

Vietnam trip takes strict measures to avoid African Swine Fever risk

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TSBE Food Leaders Australia export manager Geraldine Doumany, River Bend Pork business development officer Lauren Hamilton and TSBE export project officer Helen Ward.

TSBE Food Leaders Australia export manager Geraldine Doumany, River Bend Pork business development officer Lauren Hamilton and TSBE export project officer Helen Ward.

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A trade mission to Vietnam will follow strict biosecurity measures, leaving clothes worn on farms behind to avoid the risk of bringing African Swine Fever into Australia.

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A trade mission to Vietnam by potential exporters will follow strict biosecurity measures, leaving clothes worn on farms behind to avoid the risk of bringing African Swine Fever into Australia.

Eight businesses are heading off on the AccessVietnam tour being held by Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise's Food Leaders Australia as part of Shell's QGC Emerging Exporters program.

The trip will include a number of farm visits and organisers have made the decision to implement rigid measures to minimise the risks.

General manager of TSBE FLA Bruce McConnel said the lack of protocols surrounding how to prevent African Swine Fever made them decide to take a hard line and hopefully set a precedent.

"So little is known about how it is transmitted... we're taking absolutely no risks," he said.

"We didn't even want to risk people coming back to a hotel and lying down on their bed in the clothes they wore to a farm and then later lying down on the bed in their pyjamas, which they do plan on bringing home.

"There's such a concern about if swine fever could get into Australia, we knew that we didn't want it to be because of us."

As for trip participants involved in pork production, once they return to Australia they won't go back onto their farms for two weeks.

Participants have been told to either pack cheap clothing they're happy to leave behind after farm visits, or else be prepared to buy clothes at the local markets to use once and leave in Vietnam.

But the ASF pandemic has also brought opportunities of its own, TSBE FLA export manager Geraldine Doumany said.

"ASF has really driven a protein shortage right across the Asian region and while pork is a staple part of the diet and they really want to connect with suppliers of that, it also presents great opportunities for our beef producers as well who are going," she said.

Among the businesses going on the trip is Riverbend Pork, which includes five farming families, with farms from Monto right down to Casino, NSW.

Business development officer Lauren Hamilton said Vietnam is a new market for the company, which currently exports a small percentage of product to Singapore and Vietnam.

"For every country there are different specifications... so for me it's really to go out there and find out what Vietnam actually wants and if we can meet those specifications," she said.

"Australian pork is quite a high end product so it would targeting a small amount of the Vietnam population, but they're definitely looking for something that is clean."

Ms Doumany said the trip would be more targeted than previous missions to China and New Zealand.

"The aim of the trip is to really reinforce the learnings this group has had through the Emerging Exporters program over the past 12 months," she said

"We also have five of those companies that are really export-ready so they are going to be introduced to buyers in the marketplace.

"The mission essentially is getting to understand what Vietnam is, what the opportunities could be for them and start to feel the market in terms of their products, whether they're suitable or not."

Opportunities being explored as part of the trip include providing grain for noodles, live cattle export and boxed beef exports.

Businesses going on the trade mission include Riverbend Pork Group, Aussie Pork Suppliers, Busy Beef, Running Gully Meats, Four Daughters Premium Angus, grain company Carpendale Commodities, Jim's Jerky and farm machinery company Dom Distribution.

The group will head to Vietnam next Sunday.

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