THE transition from a regulated to deregulated wheat market over the past four years has proven that industry self-regulation works, according to Grain Trade Australia (GTA) chief executive Geoff Honey.
Record tonnages and value in the period following deregulation backed up the argument, which Mr Honey has made to a roomful of the world grains industry’s most influential people.
Mr Honey, who has just returned from the International Grains Council (IGC) annual conference in London, made a presentation at the conference outlining the success of the Australian wheat industry since the dismantling of AWB’s monopoly on wheat exports.
“In the past four years, the Australian wheat industry has seen record production, record shipping programs, record growth in container exports and a swing into new markets,” Mr Honey said.
“The crop grown in 2010 set a record of 27.5 million tonnes, which was broken by the following year’s crop of just under 30 million tonnes.”
He said the growth of the industry was not confined solely to mere production, pointing to bustling export programs over the past few years.
“Bulk shipping programs have been running at record levels, while container exports have grown in the past four years from a base of 0.5 million tonnes to over 2.0 million tonnes.
“Our exporters managed to find markets despite record tonnages in a very wet year, which resulted in substantial quantities of feed grain.”
Mr Honey told the conference Australia’s export focus was moving east.
“Historically the Middle East was a major market for Australian wheat, but eastern Asia now accounts for 70 per cent of our exports – up from 30 per cent in 2008.
“This change reflects our natural freight advantage over our North American competition and also the ability and quality of Australian wheat to satisfy the contemporary needs of Asian markets.”
Mr Honey also took the opportunity to highlight the success of the current marketing environment, urging Australian government to go easy on regulation within the industry.
“All this is evidence of the success of the deregulation process, achieved by a co-operative approach across the supply chain rather than through bureaucratic regulatory structure,” he said.