North Coast Coffee Industry
Mr JOHN BARTLETT: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Regional Development. What is the latest information on efforts to expand the North Coast coffee industry?
Mr DAVID CAMPBELL: Again, we have a Country Labor member asking a question on issues concerning country New South Wales. Honourable members will certainly agree with me that few things in life are better than a great cup of coffee. New South Wales coffee drinkers are increasingly downing a home brew. A growing number of lattes and espressos are being made with North Coast coffee beans. The New South Wales Government supports our State's growing coffee industry.
More than 120 growers around Nimbin, Casino, Tweed Heads, Byron Bay, Richmond, the Clarence River Valley and Coffs Harbour are now producing high-quality coffee. The New South Wales industry is largely a boutique-style supplier. Our small producers are targeting the specialty coffee market. Their premium beans are gaining a higher price because buyers value the quality of North Coast beans. They are renowned because we produce single-origin, shade-grown, organic beans, which are low in caffeine. The fact that they are naturally low in caffeine gives us a marketing edge. The reason they are low in caffeine is simply that we have fewer pests than they have overseas. Coffee plants produce caffeine as a defence against insects. The fewer the pests, the lower the caffeine levels.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Liverpool to order. I call the honourable member for Lismore to order.
Mr DAVID CAMPBELL: Our North Coast industry is growing at 6 per cent a year. With premium prices of around $8 to $9 a kilogram, our product commands double the price of imported coffee. When roasted, local coffee beans retail for around $35 a kilogram. Total production is expected to reach 800 tonnes a year by 2007. At present the North Coast industry is diverse, with a range of producers from small hobby growers right through to investment companies. The North Coast industry has been widely supported by the New South Wales Government. We have provided financial support and assistance so that local producers can display their products at trade shows. We have also supported barista courses and provided marketing and business advice. The New South Wales Government has also provided financial assistance for industry workshops and field days.
Last August the State Government helped support a field day in the Lismore area, which gave local growers access to industry experts from Brazil and Hawaii. I note that the honourable member for Lismore is not interested in this issue, but I am sure a number of his constituents are. We have also supported the development of the coffee industry business plan. Members of the House will be interested to know that just last week the New South Wales Government provided $6,600 funding support for the first barista festival in Newcastle. That is a great way to promote coffee and a great way to support small businesses in the Hunter region.
Australia currently imports $630 million worth of coffee each year. The coffee bean market—the portion our growers can target—is worth nearly $100 million annually. The Government is keen to make sure that it supports this new industry so that it can target this valuable market. Growing our North Coast coffee industry is good news for the Northern Rivers communities and is good news for local jobs in the region.