Chinese mills target direct links with South Australian grain growers

By / 4th of August, 2014

ONE of China’s leading milling enterprises is looking to go around Australia’s major grain handlers and build direct export arrangements with growers in South Australia.

Guang Dong Baiyan Grain & Oil Industrial Co. Ltd chairman Yizhou Liu said his milling company needs specific grains for some of its speciality products which its finds impossible to get through major players such as CBH Group, Viterra and GrainCorp.

Speaking through Shanghai-based interpreter Julia Zhu, Liu said his company had an urgent need for low protein, low gluten wheat for some of its key products.

Currently milling around 150,000 tonnes of wheat and 50,000 tonnes of rice annually, he said his company has 60 varieties of special flour and more than 20 varieties of rice being sold into more than 30 Chinese provinces, cities and autonomous regions.

It also exports to Hong Kong, South East Asia and is expanding into other markets.

“Baiyan also mills superfine bread flour, refined bread flour, cake flour and more than 60 varieties of special flour,” Liu said.

“One of our most popular desserts – Saqima – demands low protein/low gluten grain and unfortunately the major players tend to focus on blended supplies at the export level,” he said.

“We work with them but also already have some relationships in place with South Australian grain growers so we can source exactly what we need.

“I have come on this trip to Australia to identify more producers in South Australia who can meet our specialised needs. We want to make more friends beyond those we already have and secure supplies for the future of our business.

“This visit is all about long-term relationships with South Australian grain growers to help us continue to grow our business in China.”

"We want to make more friends beyond those we already have and secure supplies for the future of our business."

Liu said the state government had helped the 17 Chinese grain processors and feed grain suppliers get a better understanding of the diversity of South Australia’s production cycle.

He said the visitors have been helped to identify large numbers of potential on-property supply partners who could become specialist providers over the long term.

More than 40 Chinese have crisscrossed Australia over the past week looking to build better relationships with the local grain industry.

Dave Lewis, the grains account manager for Primary Industries and Regions South Australia (PIRSA) said some of the Chinese were already doing work in the state and now wanted to build on that.

Lewis said some of the delegates represented state-owned operations but most, including Baiyan, are private enterprise and in charge of their own operations.

“The livestock producers in the party are turning to us for high-quality, non-GM feed grain because they are now finding it hard to source in other global markets - particularly barley,” he said.

Lewis said although wheat and barley are high on the Chinese shopping list, they were also taking a lot of interest in South Australia’s beans and pulse production to meet growing domestic demand in China.

The Chinese delegation joined representatives from AusTrade and PIRSA for the four-days visit. The tour took in Outer Harbour in Port Adelaide and Bowman (between Port Wakefield and Balaklava) where they looked at export hay.

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