A new variety of pumpkin developed in North Queensland was introduced to Japanese buyers and decision-makers during Queensland’s first virtual agricultural trade mission recently.

The new Orange Glow pumpkins have a thin, almost transparent skin that is both edible and contains up to 4 times the beta-carotene found in regular pumpkins.

They were promoted during a 3-day ‘virtual mission’ to Japan, undertaken by TIQ in conjunction with the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

Orange Glow pumpkins featured in a cook-off during the mission between Consul-General of Japan in Brisbane Kazunari Tanaka and Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner, watched by legendary Iron Chef Hiroyuki Sakai in TIQ’s Tokyo office.

TIQ also connected Orange Glow creators Daintree Fresh and exporter Harrowsmiths with Japanese importer Wismettac for a 1-on-1 virtual meeting, and supplied samples of the pumpkins to Wismettac’s Tokyo office for the meeting.

Queensland Trade and Investment Commissioner for Japan Tak Adachi said it was encouraging to see the success of the first virtual mission, which included a range of online events and briefings.

‘Our Japanese Government colleagues were impressed with how the Queensland Government has adapted to online engagement at a Ministerial level so quickly,’ Mr Adachi said.

‘Using the latest technology for events like a virtual tour of the new greenhouse at the Queensland Government’s Ayr Research Facility was particularly powerful.

‘Being in the same time zone as Japan, Queensland is well placed to achieve new investment outcomes through virtual visits while international travel is disrupted.’

The TIQ Japan team also gave a virtual briefing to 30 export-ready Queensland agri-food businesses during the mission, providing insights on the Japanese market, including consumer preferences and ecommerce opportunities.

Co-hosted by the Chamber of Commerce & Industry Queensland, the briefing also offered participants the chance to network and learn about participating in Foodex 2021, Japan’s key annual food trade show.

Queensland is on a run with pumpkin exports to the Japanese market, with Queensland growers exporting another variety — the kabocha pumpkin — to Japan in June.

Japan is Queensland’s largest agricultural export market, importing over 19% of the state’s total agricultural exports in 2019–20, valued at an estimated $9.55 billion.

Previous events have promoted Queensland produce in Japan, including a high-profile 2018 lunch prepared by Iron Chef Sakai at his La Rochelle restaurant in Tokyo.

The virtual mission to Japan took place on 1–3 September, and was undertaken as part of the Queensland Government’s Unite & Recover Economic Recovery Plan, which includes $5 million to support agricultural trade.

If you’re a primary producer interested in export opportunities to Japan for your fresh produce, contact TIQ Japan or one of our regional TIQ offices.