New research by CQUniversity is investigating whether changes to processing and supply-chain techniques could enable fresh Central Queensland produce to be transported to Asia without the need for preservatives, with no loss of quality.

University researcher Dr Delwar Akbar is leading a team exploring whether high-pressure processing and supply-chain enhancements could see preservative-free produce reaching Asian consumers within 24 hours.

Dr Akbar said the two-and-a-half-year project would build on a previous CQUni study that had identified knowledge gaps in the processing, marketing and transport of exports.

‘We [Queensland producers] know what we are growing, but we also need to involve the other stages in the supply chain,’ he said.

The two-and-a-half-year research project has attracted a total of $676,000 in funding and in-kind support, with major funding coming from the Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia.

Rockhampton Region Mayor Margaret Strelow said the project was one of a number designed to build better connections between Central Queensland producers and major export markets in Asia.

‘Council will focus on developing the international linkage between our region and China, which over the course of the next three years, will create a tangible platform for trade and investment,’ she said.

‘We will look at how we can increase our market access, develop supply-chain efficiencies and create the right environment that allows us to provide better access for local producers to export to Asia.’

Other project supporters and stakeholders include Growcom; the Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning; the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries; Passionfruit Australia; and Tropical Pines Ltd.

The project will also communicate with TIQ, Austrade and relevant government departments in the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

Supporting innovation to futureproof traditional export industries is one of the actions identified in the Queensland Trade and Investment Strategy 2017–2022.