Kelp the key to China

Sea­weed fer­tiliser cracks open Chi­nese mar­kets

Sunshine Coast Daily - - NEWS - SCOTT SAWYER [email protected]­

A COAST kelp com­pany is on the cusp of crack­ing the riches of the Chi­nese mar­ket.

Doug and Kaye McGaughey’s Kunda Park-based Na­trakelp com­pany wel­comed a del­e­ga­tion from China’s Zhe­jiang New Vi­sion on Fri­day.

Two years ago the fam­ily in­tro­duced their prod­uct to Zhe­jiang AMP In­ter­na­tional, which is a sub­sidiary of a US $6 bil­lion trad­ing com­pany which dis­trib­utes agri­cul­tural prod­ucts through China.

Af­ter be­ing tri­alled against three other liq­uid sea­weed fer­tilis­ers in­clud­ing lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional prod­ucts, Na­trakelp was se­lected as the prod­uct to be dis­trib­uted.

Doug and Kaye’s son, Tim, man­ager of the Kunda Park busi­ness, said the num­bers be­ing talked about for ex­port were ex­cit­ing.

“If they go full-on they’re talk­ing about a con­tainer a week,” he said.

Each batch of the 95 per cent or­ganic fer­tiliser takes three weeks to pro­duce us­ing a cold bac­te­rial fer­men­ta­tion process.

Tim said his par­ents started up at Kunda Park in 1987 as a chem­i­cal fer­tiliser com­pany us­ing just five per cent sea­weed, but had grad­u­ally shifted to 95 per cent.

He said they sold di­rectly to grow­ers and these days boasted some huge com­mer­cial clients in­clud­ing Aus­tralia’s largest car­rot grow­ers and Pen­folds wines.

“It’s a plant stim­u­lant,” Tim said.

He es­ti­mated on an av­er­age year they pro­duced be­tween 300,000-500,000 litres of fer­tiliser, but that could dou­ble if their Chi­nese ex­ports took off.

The busi­ness is run by Doug and Kaye, Tim, his brother Matthew and sis­ter Cather­ine Stib­bard.

They em­ploy about 10 peo­ple and have sales­peo­ple around the coun­try.

At present Na­trakelp ex­ports to China, Malaysia, Sin­ga­pore, Ecuador, New Zealand, South Korea and Taiwan.

Tim said they were “con­stantly” get­ting in­quiries from dif­fer­ent coun­tries.

Bank­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tives at Fri­day’s wel­come cer­e­mony said at present Na­trakelp was only ac­tive in about 10 per cent of the Chi­nese mar­ket and there was mas­sive room for ex­pan­sion.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the coun­cil, De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture and Fish­eries and Queens­land Ex­ports were at Fri­day’s cer­e­mony.

Tim said they planned to take the del­e­ga­tion to Syd­ney for some sight­see­ing, be­fore head­ing down to South Aus­tralia, to show them a 1000-acre farm which he ex­pected would sur­prise them, as they were used to small farms in China.

Nin­derry MP Dan Pur­die said their suc­cess story was one to be cel­e­brated.

“This is a won­der­ful ac­knowl­edge­ment of what can be achieved through years of hard work, in­no­va­tion and com­mit­ment,” Mr Pur­die said.

Kaye said the del­e­ga­tion’s ar­rival had been a proud mo­ment for their busi­ness as they were able to high­light their ca­pac­ity to ef­fec­tively dou­ble ca­pac­ity overnight.

Photo: John McCutcheon

GROW­ING: Matthew and Doug McGaughey, Cather­ine Stib­bard and Kaye and Tim McGaughey of Na­trakelp in Kunda Park.

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