AUSTRALIA’s new Agriculture Minister David Littleproud got a first-hand look at the CBH Group’s major international investments this month, during a four-day tour of Vietnam.
Mr Littleproud ventured south of Ho Chi Minh to the Cai Mep deep water port on Saturday, April 14, where he was shown around facilities from Australia’s biggest agricultural investment in Vietnam at Interflour and Intermalt.
The two facilities are owned by the Interflour Group, a joint venture between the CBH Group and Indonesia’s Salim Group.
Mr Littleproud’s tour of CBH’s investment is nine months after the US$70 million Intermalt plant was officially opened to meet the growing demand for beer in Vietnam, which has seen national consumption grow at an average of six to nine per cent over the past decade.
With plans to double its initial production rate of 110,000 tonnes of malt a year by 2019, CBH Group general manager of grower and external relations Brianna Peake, who joined Mr Littleproud on the tour, said things were tracking well at the new malting facility.
“It was great to see the minister travel to one of our key export grain markets on one of his first official visits,” Ms Peake said.
“Since opening in July 2017 Intermalt has steadily ramped up production on a monthly basis to its maximum capacity.
“It’s great to see the majority of barley supplied by Australian growers.
“CBH expects barley exports to grow with the demand for Australian barley now coming from Intermalt.
“It was a great opportunity to show the minister one of our key overseas investments and inform him of Vietnam’s importance to Western Australian growers as a key market for our grain.”
After touring Intermalt and Intergrain, Mr Littleproud said he was excited by the potential for growth within Australia’s neighbouring export market.
Vietnam is Australia’s third largest wheat market with a value of $567 million in 2016-17, representing an increase of 25 per cent from the year prior.
Barley exports rose 18pc in the same time frame to $114m.
Tariffs for Australian grains were eliminated into Vietnam in January 2016 as part of the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement, and Mr Littleproud said potential to further extend market growth was promising, following the signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP-11).
“Vietnam is a rapidly developing economy, with a rapidly growing consumer base, and Australian farmers have been delivering the goods and have built a solid reputation for quality in Vietnam,” Mr Littleproud said.
“Watching Aussie wheat go into making staples of the Vietnamese diet, Bánh mì and instant noodles, helping to provide food security was a great experience.
“Trade has obvious benefits for Australian wheat and barley farmers, as well as providing essential food security for the people and nation of Vietnam.
“Our two countries share a wonderful bond, built on a 40-year agriculture relationship and celebrating 45 years of diplomatic relations in 2018.
“Australia appreciates the close complementary trade and agriculture relationship we have with Vietnam and we look forward to deepening those links into the future.”