BJP Laboratories a Queensland-based contract manufacturer of conventional and alternative medicines, has enjoyed considerable growth by targeting export markets. By Andrew Watson, Executive Director – Export Finance at Efic.

Medical manufacturing is an innovative sector that continues to show positive growth against the backdrop of a turbulent global market. While some questions remain on the future of the Australian manufacturing industry due to recent high-profile changes in the market, evidence shows that innovative manufacturers are taking advantage of the opportunities in international markets and growing their businesses.

Against this uncertain future, BJP Laboratories has experienced significant growth by exporting its products to new markets. The company specialises in manufacturing and packaging organic and non-organic complementary medicinal products, such as tablets and capsules. Among its extensive range of products, BJP specialises in the production of probiotics, which it undertakes in its purpose-built, humidity-controlled facility located in Yatala, between Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

BJP has experienced exponential business growth as a result of increasing demand for listed medicines in overseas markets. On the back of this success, one of its existing clients, Blackmores, required increased production capacity to meet the growing demand for glucosamine tablets in Asia. Despite having the technical capability to manufacture the tablets, BJP was unable to secure sufficient finance to purchase the raw materials required for production.

Overcoming barriers to export

With BJP’s bank unable to provide additional funding to support its rapid business growth without more tangible security, the business faced the possibility of being unable to fulfil a contract with one of the world’s most reputable vitamins, minerals and supplement companies. On the recommendation of its bank, BJP approached Efic, Australia’s export credit agency, for a solution. This scenario is not new to the manufacturing industry. Efic has assisted small businesses across Australia with access to export finance.

In the case of BJP, Efic was able to provide funding in the form of an $823,000 Export Contract Loan. BJP is continuing to expand, with its staff growing from 38 to 117. It now operates on a 24-hour basis and manufactures 12m tablets and 4.5m capsules per day.

Future opportunities for manufacturers

As we start a new financial year, many manufacturers will be thinking about their business plans for the year ahead. Against the backdrop of volatile financial markets and uncertain global growth, there remain significant opportunities for Australia’s manufacturing industries, including medical manufacturing.

In recent years, Australia has signed a number of free-trade agreements with countries such as China, South Korea and Japan. These agreements have opened up the Australian economy to these markets by reducing trade barriers such as tariffs on Australian goods and services – and opportunities still exist in Europe, the Middle East and New Zealand.

Australia’s manufacturing industries should tap into their ability to innovate, and think not only about how they can innovate their goods, but also how they identify and take advantage of opportunities in international markets. BJP is just one example of an Australian manufacturer that has been innovative in its thinking, overcome barriers to export finance, and continued its growth journey overseas.