THE Sunshine Coast Airport has signed a partnership agreement with the Food and Agribusiness Network with the aim of boosting food exports from the region to national and international markets.
FAN is a leading Australian food and agribusiness cluster, supporting the growth of the industry across the Sunshine Coast, Gympie, Noosa and Moreton Bay.
It facilitates opportunities for its 300 members to connect, learn and collaborate through networking events, business skills workshops, trade shows, mentoring and programs and services that build capability and capacity.
The Gympie and Sunshine Coast’s food industry is valued at $750 million annually and this is expected to reach $1 billion by 2022.
More than 900 businesses operate in horticulture, dairy production, seafood, nurseries and food and beverage processing. Food and agribusiness also supports a burgeoning food tourism sector, with the region renowned for the quality of its restaurants, cooking schools, farm-gate experiences, specialist food tours, craft brewers and events.
The region’s food industry is forecast to be amongst the chief benefactors from the launch of a new extended runway in 2020, along with plans for a dedicated freight logistics centre as part of the recently announced Sunshine Coast Airport Draft Master Plan 2040.
Sunshine Coast Airport Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Brodie, said the potential for growing air freight as a result of the airport expansion made the partnership with FAN very timely.
“The infrastructure planned for the Airport has the potential to accelerate the growth of food exports over the next two decades,” said Mr Brodie.
“Initial research has shown that local businesses list exports as their biggest opportunity to expand sales over the next five years, and they would consider utilising Sunshine Coast Airport provided it is commercially viable.
“The priority initially will be growing domestic air freight, utilising the bellies of domestic passenger aircraft. Restaurants in Sydney and Melbourne already have an appetite for Mooloolaba prawns and other premium seafood, and with faster and more efficient means of transporting high-value, time-sensitive produce there are excellent prospects for growing the Sunshine Coast’s market share in a number of prime markets.
“We will also look to expand international routes in the longer term and these wide-bodied passenger aircraft will be able to return carrying high-quality dairy products, seafood, fresh produce and artisan food and beverages.
“To complement the opportunities provided by the new runway, the recently launched Sunshine Coast Airport Draft Master Plan 2040 proposes a logistics and freight centre as part of the development of a new Airport North Precinct which could include cold storage facilities tailored specifically for freighting fresh produce and processed foods.”
General Manager of FAN, Emma Greenhatch, welcomed the partnership agreement, saying:
“The Greater Sunshine Coast is one of the fastest growing food regions in the country and the expansion of the Sunshine Coast Airport will open up new trade opportunities for our food and agribusiness industry both nationally and internationally.
“FAN delivers programs and services that assist members to develop the capabilities they need to expand their markets. More domestic flights from the Sunshine Coast and, in time, international flights, will enhance market access and support future industry competitiveness.
“Key infrastructure projects like the expansion of the airport not only create new industry opportunities, they drive business confidence and put a spotlight on the Sunshine Coast as a growing region with strong investment potential.
“We look forward to working closely with the Sunshine Coast Airport to facilitate new growth opportunities for our food and agribusiness industry.”