Michele Zhuang exports South Australian products, including some of our finest wine and spirits, to the world. We caught up with the cross-cultural and international trade expert to find out more.
What sort of South Australian businesses do you work with?
I have a keen interest in the food and beverage industry, and I leverage decades of cross-cultural understanding and negotiations to create new, profitable opportunities for local brands. I work with Healthy Garden Australia, Red Hen Gin, Iniquity Whisky and Barossa Valley Brewing in export markets like China, Japan and Korea.
How do you promote these businesses internationally?
Firstly, I help businesses identify their unique selling points and get export ready. By identifying challenges as opportunities for growth, utilising various resources and support, and diversifying product lines, these local businesses are empowered to expand into north east Asian markets, opening up new supply chains and streams of income.
You’re also involved in the export of local wines…
The unique flavour of South Australian wine is a result of our climate and soil – we are lucky living in Adelaide, the world wine capital offers a diverse variety to Asia and the rest of the world. The most popular wines in Asia are shiraz as it’s easy to drink and well suited to the Asian palette.
How has the recent increase in China Australia Wine Tax effected your business?
Before the anti-dumping tax was imposed on Australian wine to China, nearly 50 percent of our Australian wines were exported to China. It’s devastating for us and our industry. Basically, years of hard work, investment in the market and our lifeline in the Australian wine export and distributions were destroyed.
Our customers in China still love our wine, but the price points after anti-dumping duties are not variable in the market. To survive, we have had to adjust and diversify into spirits and other beverages.
Another key export is Manuka honey oats from South Australia. Why is there a demand for South Australian honey in Asia?
Manuka honey is well marketed in Asia for its health benefits and local porridge maker Healthy Garden Australia has developed an innovative mix of oats and Manuka honey powder in small scathes. Oats are a natural super food that boost the immune system – coupled with the benefits of Manuka honey this product provides many health benefits.
How has the pandemic effected business?
It has been a challenging time for many of us. As companies are unable to do business in person, establishing a trusting relationship becomes harder. Coupled with other challenges, such as increased freight costs, longer lead time and stress on the supply chain, it’s a tough time for business.
Have you looked at, or will you look at, exporting South Australian products to other regions?
Yes, recent deals made to Japan and Korea have given us more confidence to explore other export markets like the US, EU and India.
How does your work contribute to the South Australian economy?
Our team has generated over $500 million to the South Australian economy over the past five years and has also contributed to the local community in the cross-cultural exchange space.
I am passionate about empowering businesses and organisations with measurable results by leveraging our export distribution and client relations in international markets. My mission is to bridge the cultural gap between Asian countries and Australia by creating new, profitable opportunities in foreign markets for Australian business owners.