Aussie oat farmers are set to benefit from soaring Chinese demand for Australian made products as iconic brand Uncle Tobys launches into the market.
Nestlé Australia is partnering with one of China’s biggest e-commerce platforms, VIP.com, to offer its customers some of Australia’s best-known brands including Allen’s lollies and Uncle Tobys.
The deal opens the door to VIP.com’s customer base of over 300 million. VIP.com has enjoyed 23 per cent growth in 2017 compared with last year, when total turnover was over $US8.2 billion.
The new products available on VIP.com are made in Australia creating a potential boon for Nestlé Australia’s local manufacturing base and suppliers, including farmers. Chinese consumers will be able to buy Uncle Tobys muesli bars, nut bars, Le Snak and Farmers Pick, as well as Allen’s Peaches and Cream and Snakes Alive, plus medicated lozenges such as Soothers and Anticol.
The announcement is further evidence that ‘Made in Australia’ continues to carry a great deal of clout among discerning Chinese consumers.
Senior Director International of VIP.com, Hillary Wang, said "At VIP.com, we have an active shopper base of 300 million consumers - we have more than the population of Australia visiting our online platform daily."
She went on to say "We are actively nurturing the food and nutrition category, it will be great to be able to offer one of Australia's most treasured consumer brands in Uncle Tobys to our shopper base in China.
"Uncle Tobys is one of those unique brands - it has over 100 years history, is made from quality Australian ingredients, and delivers against Chinese consumer trends of nutrition and convenience.
"The co-operation between VIP.com and Nestlé Australia is consistent with our vision to bring our consumers the best of international lifestyle - we are rapidly expanding our range to improve our shoppers’ experience."
Nestlé General Manager Nutritious Snacks, Scott Coles, said the advantages of Nestlé Australia’s local manufacturing is of benefit at home and in China.
“Our commitment to manufacturing in Australia enables us to draw upon and nurture local supply chains of premium quality raw materials. We’re very proud of our participation in the National Oat Breeding Program which helps produce oat varieties with higher yields, better disease tolerance and improved milling properties. That program has not only helped us secure some of the world’s best milling oats, it’s helped local farmers.
“We are optimistic the partnership with VIP.com will lead to solid growth, which is good for farmers, good for their communities, and good for Uncle Tobys,” Mr Coles said.
While confident that Uncle Tobys snacks will have strong appeal in the Chinese middle-class market, Mr Coles said it was still a hugely competitive market.
“It’s clear you need to be clever in your marketing in China and social media is vital. WeChat has over half a billion users in China and they’re are deeply engaged in the platform. So Nestlé Australia will be investing heavily in engaging with key influencers and their audiences. We’re keen to reach young Chinese parents, many of whom are very nutrition conscious and have faith in Australian made and packed products,” Mr Coles said.
Uncle Tobys snacks range is produced in Wahgunyah, on the southern banks of the Murray River, with oats sourced from local farmers. Allen’s jelly lollies are made in Broadford, north of Melbourne, while the Allen’s medicated lozenge range, including Soothers, are made in Nestlé Australia’s Blacktown factory in western Sydney.
Mr Coles said that the China Free Trade Agreement had paved the way for Australian food producers and manufacturers to sell directly into the biggest middle class market in the world.