AHEIA - Providing leadership to support and strengthen Australia's trade in horticultural produce.

AHEIA appoints new Deputy Chair

AHEIA held their AGM on Thursday 26th November. Due to the Covid crisis, it was a virtual event, attended by members only.
The Chair (Joe Saina) and the CEO (Andréa Magiafoglou) thanked members for attending. Joseph Saina noted that despite the challenges of 2020, the story of horticulture for the year 2019-2020 is a positive one and exports have grown and the Association fared well.
“Advocacy and industry representation take up most of our time and resources. Relationships with members and stakeholders continues to improve due to the great job done by the CEO”.
The CEO said that the year ending June 2020 has left an indelible mark on horticultural exporters and importers, with effects likely to impact the sector for many years to come. With significant airfreight capacity shortfalls, shipping delays, port congestion and market uncertainty, among many other difficulties.
“I’ve seen AHEIA members navigating disrupted global supply chains that are unparalleled in the history of the Association. The resilience and fortitude displayed by members throughout this time has been nothing short of astounding. These efforts are recognised, valued and serve to motivate us daily in our continuing work to support members through this time”
Ms Magiafoglou said that in late March, prior to the inception of the International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM), AHEIA undertook a membership survey to better understand member outlook and key concerns arising from supply chain disruptions in the early days of the pandemic. The information provided by members and ongoing work with Austrade was instrumental in developing the business case within horticulture to demonstrate the real and vital need for Federal support for airfreight reliant perishable products.

“Work in this area will be ongoing for the Association; cargo capacity is likely to remain stymied by the lack of passenger movement for several years to come. The funding support provided by the Federal Government through IFAM has certainly assisted exporters move perishable product into key markets. However, it remains important for exporters, industry groups and government bodies to continue working together and coordinate viable strategies to utilise this mechanism most effectively.”

The CEO said that sea freight has also not been immune to the impacts of COVID-19, with blank sailings, congestion surcharges, rising costs and port disruptions leading to a higher risk profile across the sector. These are member concerns that have been raised across several forums; future freight assistance support packages, and any re-imagined tranche of IFAM post June 2021, should reflect the breadth of COVID-19 shipping constraints impacting trade outcomes for both air and sea.
While the 2019/20 export data indicates a slowdown in growth trends, the numbers only reflect a
small proportion of time when supply chain disruptions were widespread.

“Despite this, data across 2019/20 landed at a volume and value that exceeded totals for 2018/19. Strong export volumes from table grapes certainly helped bolster outcomes, but delays associated with the issuance of import permits led to a close to 40% reduction in trade to Indonesia for this commodity, and the sobering outcome of unrealised export opportunities and real financial impacts at the business level. “

“The Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA) entered into force on 5 July 2020, and we look to this agreement, as well as newly signed and upcoming FTAs to enhance our two-way trade opportunities with trading partners.”

The AGM included the appointment of board members, Cameron Carter (Seeka Australia) has been appointed new deputy chair, and Joseph Saina will continue in his capacity of Chairman. Continuing board members for 2020/21 include Heath Jakeman, Joseph Tullio, Mark Pidgeon, Hugh Molloy, Brian Ceresa and Mark Hall.

AHEIA thanked Chris Fairless, who has stepped down from the board. The Chairman and CEO conveyed their thanks to Joe Tullio who has been the Deputy Chair of the association since 2016. Joe will continue to sit on the board.