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8 May 2018: Victorian berry growers have launched export sales of a niche product, with help from the national Farming Together program. Y.V. Fresh has exported Red Bayberries to discerning diners on the other side of the Pacific Ocean.

Rarely grown outside of Asia, the Red Bayberry has been grown for centuries in China where it is favoured for its sweetness and high levels of antioxidants. University of Queensland scientists started growing trials nearly 20 years ago, seeking the best varieties for Australian conditions.

Victorian-based Y.V. Fresh undertook the first shipment to Vancouver, Canada in January where the premium fruit was offered at specialist stand-alone dessert bars.

National sales manager Jeff Matthews said: “In terms of customer satisfaction, it went extremely well. And in terms of logistics, it went very well.”

Now the group is planning next year’s exports and already has hopes to expand to Taiwan and Singapore and also to Fiji, where they hope to tap into the tourist resort marketplace with premium raspberries, blackberries and blueberries.

The Canadian export experience taught the group important lessons in supply-chain dynamics, said Jeff. “We learned about the reliance in intermediaries to ensure quality. We also discovered how important it is to work with companies that match our size and volume, especially in freight logistics.”

The group learned it was better to send smaller consignments more frequently than a large weekly consignment.

“We’ve grown to understand more about what it takes and this time around we’ll be asking all the questions with a lot more knowledge,” said Jeff. “It’s all starting to get somewhere and we all believe the Farming Together program has been pretty good.”

Y.V. Fresh secured assistance from Farming Together to help build brand strength for its range of berries sourced from eastern state growers. The Australian-Government backed program is also helping the group market to Australian customers.

Farming Together program director Lorraine Gordon said: “This project optimises nearly 20 years of varietal trials and sees a potential new specialised export for berry growers. Beyond that, it delivers new marketing collateral and deeper understanding of supply chain dynamics – so many things have come out of this project.”

PICTURED: (above) Some of the marketing material used to boost the export sales to Canada.