13 Apr 2022

The 1970s were a rollercoaster ride of an era.

Australia's trading performance was robust at the beginning of the decade, buoyed by a boom in mineral exports. But from 1974, two oil shocks and the resulting trade slowdown took its toll.

The early 1970s were marked by tougher conditions for Australian exporters as European markets formed stricter trade barriers. The European Economic Community subjected non-members to hefty import restrictions. Australia's agricultural exports began to lose their share of the European market.

Ever resilient in the face of these challenges, Australian exporters found exciting new opportunities in Asia, Eastern Europe, North America and the Middle East. A total of 20 new global trade missions marked a busy decade for expansion and new business.

1973 was an important year in the history of Australian trade. The Australian Government reduced tariffs by 25% across the board in a bid to turn back Australia’s protectionist policies.

In the same year, the Government opened an Australian Trade Commissioner's post in Beijing, as part of a new embassy. China became Australia's sixth largest trading partner in the 1970s, with exports totalling $845 million by the end of the decade.

Capilano Trade Show_Canada
Capilano Honey Truck_Middle East
Chorithrams supermarket Abu Dhabi

images courtesy of Hive + Wellness

Capilano’s sweet export success

Australian Export Award Winner, 1971 

When it comes to Australian honey exports, Hive + Wellness, and its market-leading brand Capilano, is the queen bee.

Capilano is one of the most widely distributed Australian food brands and is one of the largest suppliers of pure honey in the world. The company exports to 32 markets, including China, the US, Germany, Japan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Behind the scenes, it’s a hive of activity. More than 675 beekeepers across Australia supply more than 10,000 tonnes of Capilano honey every year.

Building credibility on the world stage

Capilano became an unlisted public company in 1970. The company won its first Australian Export Award the following year and their next in 2009.

‘Winning an Australian Export Award was significant for Hive + Wellness and our flagship Capilano brand – it helped build credibility on the global stage,’ says Joel Carlyon, General Manager of International Sales at Hive + Wellness Australia.

‘It has helped open doors across our suite of capabilities for branded, private label and industrial bulk volume sales.’

Carlyon also speaks to Capilano’s strong relationship with Austrade. ‘Austrade’s connections across the world are invaluable. Its ability to help overcome local market challenges can be the difference between success and failure in growing your business.’

World-first innovations

Founded by two brothers in Brisbane in 1953, Capilano continues to dominate the honey category. A strong commitment to export, a robust risk management strategy and a drive to grow the Australian honey industry and create new products and packaging keeps the hive strong.

Honey lovers everywhere will be familiar with the handy, easy-to-use upside-down honey bottle. This was an Aussie world-first packaging breakthrough that revolutionised the honey industry around the globe.

Capilano is also a world leader in quality assurance standards. It was the first honey producer to monitor its honey from ‘hive to home’, using barcodes to track honey throughout the production process.

Re-entering the UK market

In March 2002, Capilano launched in the UK. It quickly became one of its strongest export markets. But the company was forced to withdraw supply in 2007 due to an Australian honey shortage. Now it’s preparing for its return.

‘The new Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement presents an opportunity for the company to re-enter this dominant honey market,’ notes Carlyon.



Snowy Mountains Scheme -Talbingo Dam
Guthega Dam 1954
Guthega Dam 1954

images including cover image, courtesy of SMEC

Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation: Engineering excellence

Australian Export Award Winner, 1977

Since its creation more than 70 years ago, Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation (SMEC) has delivered thousands of civil, transport, water, environment and power projects in more than 80 countries.

With a global footprint rooted in Australian origins, SMEC’s services are helping develop some of the world’s fastest growing and established economies.

Aussie engineering icons

SMEC’s success is credited to the company’s technical excellence, innovative problem-solving and ability to address the needs of clients and staff in diverse locations.

SMEC is behind Australia’s 1974 nation-building project, the Snowy Mountains Scheme. The iconic $820 million project successfully diverted water from rivers in south-east Australia to the west.

This remarkable feat of engineering provides water for irrigation and peak load electricity generation across New South Wales and Victoria to this day.

‘The Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Scheme forms the backbone and history of our organisation,’ says James Phillis, CEO ANZ, SMEC. ‘It continues to inspire technical excellence and an innovative and determined approach to our work.’

From local to global

SMEC has always invested in local operations and training for local talent, wherever it operates. The company has more than 55 offices in Australia, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, the Pacific, and North and South America. It employs a global team of more than 4,000.

SMEC has a long history with the Australian Export Awards. It won its first award in 1977 and won again in 1982. 

‘We are so proud of our foundations and winning an Australian Export Award in 1977 continues to be a key moment in our story,’ says Phillis. ‘We are delighted to take the opportunity to reflect again on this achievement.’

SMEC is now focused on providing advanced global solutions for the transport and energy infrastructure challenges of the future. It is also looking to embed an aspirational mindset throughout the organisation as it continues to push boundaries and deliver technical excellence.



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