FNQ produce takes flight as Cairns trade hub opens

Published Wednesday, 08 March, 2023 at 12:32 PM

Treasurer and Minister for Trade and Investment
The Honourable Cameron Dick

  • The new Regional Trade Distribution Centre has opened at Cairns Airport
  • The facility supercharges the region’s export capacity for its high quality aquacultural and agricultural produce
  • Construction of the facility has supported over 200 workers in a range of local trades across more than 40 companies

Demand for Far North Queensland produce is about to take off with the opening of the Regional Trade Distribution Centre Cairns.

The Palaszczuk Government invested $10 million through the Jobs and Regional Growth Fund to deliver this facility for the Far North.

Located at the Cairns Airport freight precinct, the 2400-square-metre facility houses large cold and freezer rooms, temperature-controlled spaces and ambient transit areas, with capacity for future expansion.

Operations will enable fresh produce including fish and crustaceans (live and frozen), avocadoes, mangoes, melons, citrus and blueberries to be seamlessly and safely exported to international markets, especially throughout Asia.

The facility will boost aquacultural and agricultural produce export capacity, generate jobs and improve productivity throughout the industry supply chain.

It will also capitalise on Queensland’s global reputation as a leader in the production and processing of high-quality produce.

The Queensland Government worked closely with Air Freight Handling Services (AFHS) to support development of the Cairns centre that will assist them and fresh food exporters in the region to recover from the significant business disruption caused by the pandemic.

During construction, the project supported over 200 workers in a range of local trades across more than 40 companies, with further operational jobs and business opportunities to be generated now that the facility is up and flying.

This is Queensland’s second state-supported regional export hub, following the completion last year of our trade distribution facility in Toowoomba.

Quotes attributable to the Treasurer and Minister for Trade and Investment:

“This centre unlocks the economic potential of the food bowl that is Far North Queensland.

The RTDC will become a vital piece of Queensland’s freight and export network, supporting quick response to economic recovery and future growth in international demand for Queensland’s fresh produce.

“Despite the disruptions of the past few years, in 2021-22 Queensland’s agriculture and food exports were valued at $10.7 billion, including air freight exports of food valued at $500 million.

“In 2021-22, Cairns airport exported food and agricultural products valued at $40.4 million, and this centre has the potential to push those numbers even higher in the years ahead.

“Every box of Queensland produce that flies out of Cairns in the hold of an aircraft is an opportunity to bring even more tourists in from both domestic and international markets.

Quotes attributable to the Member for Cairns Michael Healy:

“With the Regional Trade Distribution Centre Cairns, we have a huge opportunity to showcase FNQ’s wonderful produce further than ever before.”

“Queensland’s agricultural industries make a vital contribution to the lives of Queenslanders with the sector delivering over $23 billion annually to the economy and supporting more than 370,000 jobs.

“The completion of this centre will not only boost freight access for Far North Queensland, giving confidence to local businesses and creating more local jobs, but this will also create additional revenue for airlines, increasing cargo.

Increasing streams of revenue for airlines helps grow our destination’s attractiveness while ensuring more planes with more tourists”.  

Quotes attributable to Air Freight Handling Services (AFHS) Managing Director Barb Ford:

We are pleased to have managed the delivery of this significant project for the Far North Queensland region in conjunction with the Queensland Government, Cairns Airport and the local community.”

“Throughout the process, a significant number of local people with local businesses, have collaborated with us, from designers, managers and professional teams, through to builders, tradespeople and suppliers.

“The project demonstrates excellence in its delivery, design and workmanship, and we can’t wait to see the ongoing opportunities this facility brings back to the community.”

Further information:

Overall, the Queensland Government committed $20 million from the Jobs and Regional Growth Fund to support delivery of regional trade distribution centres in both Cairns and Toowoomba.

The Toowoomba Wellcamp Trade Distribution Centre was officially opened in July 2021.The facility is regional Queensland’s largest fresh food exporting hub with a gross floor area of 4,000 square metres. Find out more about Regional Trade Distribution Centres.

Learn more about the Queensland Government’s investment programs and how they’re facilitating high-impact projects and supporting long-term job creation across the state.


Media contact: Geoff Breusch 0417 272 875