In the first half of 2017, subject to government and regulatory approvals, Qantas will carry more than 50,000 litres of fresh VAN milk in the belly of a Boeing 767-300 freighter from Hobart to the second largest city in the Zhejiang Province which has a population of 55 million people.
The Boeing 767-300 service, the largest commercial aircraft to regularly operate into and out of Hobart, will initially operate weekly with a view to increasing the frequency to meet demand.
Local distributors will truck the milk to supermarkets and convenience stores in Ningbo and Beijing, with fresh milk travelling from cow to container to consumer in China across 10,000 kilometres.
Managing director of VAN Dairy’s parent company, Moon Lake Investments, Sean Shwe said: “There is a huge demand for fresh milk in China and the key to satisfying that demand is having a reliable freight partner with an established freighter network, infrastructure and support in China and expertise in handling fresh produce – Qantas provides that.
“Establishing this trade bridge is an exciting venture for our dairy company, VAN Dairy who produce VAN milk, and opens the door for access for other Tasmanian producers of fresh, perishables such as seafood, fruit and vegetables to air freight their produce on this direct flight to China.
“It will be a game changer for Tasmania, and we are proud to be leading the charge.”
Executive manager Qantas Freight and Qantas Catering Group Alison Webster said the airline was excited to be working with VAN Dairy to help to expand its customer base internationally.
“We’ve been flying freight between Australia and Greater China for more than thirty years, and currently offer freight capacity on forty flights a week,” said Ms Webster.
“This includes five dedicated freighter aircraft services, carrying a mix of perishables such as chilled meat, seafood, dairy, fruit and vegetables as well as general cargo.
“Over the past three years Qantas Freight has developed particularly strong capabilities in dairy export which, with its short-life, requires close collaboration to ensure on time delivery and quality control throughout the supply chain.
Moon Lake Investments has chosen Ningbo and China’s capital Beijing as the initial distribution areas, with plans to extend VAN Dairy’s market reach to Shanghai, Hangzhou and other cities after the product is established.
A sophisticated marketing campaign will also be launched in China across print, outdoor and Chinese social media channels Weibo and YouKu showcasing Tasmania’s natural beauty.
Through its partnerships with Lion Dairy, two locally based freight logistics companies and now Qantas, VAN Dairy is able to guarantee ‘chain of custody’ and quality of the milk from the cow to the carton to the consumer in China.
As well as dedicated freighters serving Greater China, Qantas freight also offers capacity in the belly of Qantas’ 42 return flights per week including the new Sydney Beijing service that begins in January 2017.