Exports of fresh fruit and vegetables from South Australia are set to grow under a new agreement with Singapore, South Australia’s state government has said.

The announcement followed the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) by the export arm of the South Australian Produce Market, the Australian Produce Collective (APC), and its Singapore-based partner IM Holdings.

The MOU “is the first step in formalising a joint venture company which will be headquartered in Singapore, opening up markets throughout South East Asia and China for local producers”, the government said.

A dedicated and branded Australian Produce Distribution Centre will act as a consolidation and distribution point to help serve Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Myanmar.

South Australia’s agriculture, food and fisheries minister Leon Bignell, who attended the MOU’s signing ceremony in Singapore on 25 July, said: “South Australia’s horticulture industry has a AUD3bn (US$2.25bn) farm gate value and we have the largest area under protective cropping in Australia. Our state is continually increasing its capacity in intensive horticulture and fresh food production.”

Bignell said: “Regular missions to the region will raise the state’s profile, help businesses gain new markets, strengthen the knowledge base and generate new investment and employment opportunities.”

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APC CEO Craig Katz said: “With the growing demand for premium fresh Australian produce, the Singapore-based Australian Produce Distribution Centre will deliver better service and better availability for more customers throughout the ASEAN region. It is a key part of our strategy to prepare our supply chain for the future.”