Department of State Development
  • South Australia has an opportunity to export barley in the first quarter of 2021 as harvest will coincide with a drop in the stock of stored barley in India.
  • Indian breweries have missed their season of maximum market demand for beer due to the downturn in beer sales as a result of lockdown. Brewers like United Breweries Group have temporarily halted procurement after securing only 60% of its barley requirement. Industry is now in wait and watch mode as prices have been cooling.
  • Importantly, there has been growth in the consumption of beer in India, and South Australia is known worldwide for its high-quality malting barley. The recognition of phosphine fumigation as a quarantine treatment will help Australia to negotiate broader acceptance of phosphine as a treatment for other grains, pulses and nuts.
  • While, the air, rail and interstate travel remains suspended, the government has allowed agricultural activities, health services and industries operating in rural areas to function. Agricultural activities permitted include agricultural, horticultural, farming, procurement of agri products.
  • States like Odisha have allowed all e-commerce platforms to resume their operations for both essential and non-essential deliveries, in the second phase of the lockdown. Even retail chains like Big Bazaar, Reliance Fresh and Spencer’s Retail have been allowed to start doorstep deliveries in the state. Odisha has also allowed all logistics players like DTDC and Blue Dart to start their operations again.
  • The Indian Government has not processed import requests for dairy products such as cheese, since February 2020. Importers have to seek a sanitary import permit based on which imports can happen. Importers have no visibility on when the government will action their pending requests based on which imports can be planned.
  • In Bangladesh, the government is allowed online businesses to deliver non-essential products like fashion, electronic goods and books, as the government loosened lockdown restrictions on the occasion of the Eid Festival season.
  • The Indian Government has also allowed restaurants to open for takeaway services and home delivery. However, the ban on dining-in at restaurants continues. Several restaurants including Australia’s ‘Gloria Jeans’ is focused on takeaway and home delivery services.
  • Importers of Australian processed food brands such San Remo, Capilano etc. have resumed their operations via e-commerce platforms in Bangladesh.
  • The E-Commerce Association of Bangladesh launched a special hotline number for traders which will help Australian companies grow e-commerce opportunities.
  • Australian packaged food products such as cereal, honey and pasta are being sold by two online Bangladeshi retailers distributed through local importers. There are also opportunities for Australian health and nutrition products and cosmetics.
  • Essential commodities such as chickpeas, sugar some vegetables which have an extra demand especially in Ramadan, the month of fasting, saw a sharp price hike.
  • People usually buy much larger quantities of essential items at a time, for Ramadan, which creates a pressure on the supply-demand chain and increases prices.
  • Importers and wholesalers in Chattogram have mentioned good prices for Australian chickpeas and higher demand in the market. Chickpeas is the main staple food during the month of Ramadan consumed in every household and Australia supplies 80% of the total demand.
  • While it is a space to watch, e-commerce promises to be a major disruption in what has been a very traditional market. The Indian Government has realised in these social distancing times, the role of online commerce and the need to modernise and digitise traditional markets in order to build-in real-time data and product handling.
  • E-commerce previously faced a number of disruptions and objections from trade bodies and government (with government outlining an intrusive draft policy which would have required online commerce to publish their merchant agreements and commissions online). This significant change to the market is a game changer and could substantially alter its fortunes amid an already suppressed economy compounded by COVID19.
  • In Bangladesh’s two main cities, Dhaka and Chittagong, some consumers switched to using online platforms for ordering daily necessities, such as groceries and household products. Since early March, online retailers have experienced a four- to five-fold increase in orders and deliveries.
  • There are reports that several players are struggling to keep up with mounting orders, highlighting their limited ability to respond to the unprecedented demand. However, the E-Commerce Association of Bangladesh is working with retailers, sellers, local government agencies and e-commerce platforms to mitigate these issues.
  • Given the mounting demand, large online platforms such as Chaldal has scrapped its plans to expand to two more cities this year. Instead, it has decided to set up more warehouses, both permanent and makeshift, in Dhaka.
  • There are other digital commerce companies such as AjkerDeal.com and PriyoShop.com, which are stepping up and expanding their grocery category.
  • Export and import activities at Chattogram Port are facing fresh delays following an outbreak of COVID-19 amongst port staff (including customs). This is expected to impact several containers en-route to Bangladesh from Australia, particularly pulses and fruits. Importers are preparing to clear the containers as soon as possible but delays of up to 10 days could be expected, leading to disruption within the supply chain.
  • Additional congestion has occurred following the government’s waiver of the goods storage charges at the port. Approximately 43,000 containers are located at the port yard, with capacity for 50,000. The port is now adding space to cater for storage demand.
  • Australian lentils are in hot demand in South Asia particularly Sri Lanka and Bangladesh and are being shipped from Port Adelaide and Melbourne in reasonable volume.
  • India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced an extension to India's original 21-day lockdown, to 3 May.
  • The retail sales recovery period for India might kick-start from the first week of May, provided there is no further extension on the lockdown.
  • The government had announced a 1.7 trillion rupee ($34.9 billion) economic package.
  • The Indian Government permits essential goods to be produced, transported and sold during the lockdown. However, the logistics of the transportation is significantly impacted with a shortage of trucks and drivers.
  • The Indian Government added an extra ‘corona’ tax of up to 75% to alcohol to discourage people from lining up to purchase alcohol. Hotels and restaurants have been importing wine which enables them to import duty-free subject to 5% of their foreign exchange earnings
  • Import tariffs on wine have been over 150% and it’s not thought this will reduce in the future, although alcohol continues to be the single largest revenue generator for state governments across the country.
  • With COVID-19 impacting HORECA, wine and spirits importers expect that will be a long time before domestic or international tourism goes back to normal. Hotels are trying to re-invent themselves by offering services covering sanitisation of work premises, offering office spaces, laundry services, packed food services and hotels are pushing government to allow hotels to sell wines and spirits. On average, hotels carry stocks of 10,000 to 12,000 wines per property.
  • India for the first time ever is considering an e-commerce led distribution of alcohol, including wine, in India. Several states such as West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh are starting their deliveries which include imported wines. Private players such as Zomato are also gearing up their backend to deliver wine via food delivery platforms, which is expected to be the next ‘big’ thing in India. 
  • Austrade is hosting a wine webinar on 20 May regarding COVID-19 impact and opportunities, hosted by a leading Sommelier, Magandeep Singh.
  • With COVID-19, the major consumption is now domestic and there is a major drop on the demand side for non-essentials.
  • In Sri Lanka, the government has announced it will allow lentil importers and distributors to sell at market prices. This is expected to generate more orders for Australian lentils to Sri Lanka.
  • The sea freight lines continue to operate between Australia and Sri Lanka with a limited air freight option that includes Emirates and Sri Lanka Airlines.
  • Austrade is engaging several industry associations in Sri Lanka and Australia on commercial opportunities for Australian exporters. There is strong interest to develop agri inputs and technology in fishing, dairy, crops and ag-tech solutions.
  • Austrade will hold its first e-commerce webinar on 3 June 2020 for Australian food and fast moving consumer goods companies relating to Bangladesh, India.
  • The concessionary period for occupational charges in the Port of Colombo and all commercial ports in Sri Lanka, has been extended to 7 May 2020. Due to the lockdown and supply chain disruption, all terminals and warehouses have reached their maximum capacity. Port operations and services should continue to fulfil the distribution of essential consumer items, medicine and medical supplies and other necessary consumer products on the island.
  • During this period, only basic occupational charges will be charged at terminals for all imported local TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent unit). Penal charges for the said period are waived. The terminals of Jaya Container Terminal and Unity Container Terminal of Sri Lanka Ports Authority, terminals of the South Asia Gateway and Colombo International will act in accordance with the change.
  • The Sri Lanka Rupee has depreciated nearly 15% which makes clearing documents more expensive compared to a month ago.
  • Several hotels have reopened their dining restaurants in Sri Lanka to cater for people starting to eat out. Austrade is working with Meat & Livestock Australia and Wine Australia to provide further information on the opportunities for Australian lamb and wine.

Webinars