ASX food stocks have gained 38 per cent on average in the past six months, making it one of the sectors to ride out the COVID-19 downturn.

New Zealand Coastal Seafood (ASX:NZS), for example, is up over 400 per cent in 2020. It exports fish bladder (specifically ling maw) to Asian markets, where it is considered a delicacy.

Stocks surging off success closer to home include Maggie Beer Holdings (ASX:MBH), wine selling platform Digital Wine Ventures (ASX:DW8) and diversified Tasmanian company Pure Foods Tasmania (ASX:PFT).

The latter rose from the ashes of Bunji Corporation in late April and is well above the 20c price the reverse takeover was conducted at.

Here’s a list of ASX food stocks and their six-month performance:

Code Name Price 6 Month % Return Market Cap
WOA WIDE OPEN AGRICULTURE LTD 1.505 1015 $110.9M
NZS NEW ZEALAND COASTAL SEAFOODS 0.059 478 $46.6M
DW8 DIGITAL WINE VENTURES LTD 0.03 329 $43.9M
CLB CANDY CLUB HOLDINGS LTD 0.17 183 $43.9M
PFT PURE FOODS TASMANIA LTD 0.62 155 $27.2M
MBH MAGGIE BEER HOLDINGS LTD 0.28 75 $57.0M
BEE BROO LTD 0.023 64 $14.9M
AAP AUSTRALIAN AGRICULTURAL PROJ 0.018 50 $5.5M
YOW YOWIE GROUP LTD 0.039 46 $8.5M
ELD ELDERS LTD 10.31 28 $1.6B
A2M A2 MILK CO LTD 19.49 24 $14.4B
SFG SEAFARMS GROUP LTD 0.083 20 $203.5M
SGLLV RICEGROWERS LIMITED 5.2 18 $316.1M
BUB BUBS AUSTRALIA LTD 0.94 18 $544.0M
BGA BEGA CHEESE LTD 4.83 15 $997.1M
COL COLES GROUP LTD 18.71 14 $25.2B
HVM HAPPY VALLEY NUTRITION LTD 0.195 11 $39.3M
LRK LARK DISTILLING CO. LTD 1.1 11 $58.8M
BFC BESTON GLOBAL FOOD CO LTD 0.083 4 $51.2M
APH AUSTRALIAN PRIMARY HEMP LTD 0.14 4 $9.4M
SM1 SYNLAIT MILK LTD 6.35 1 $1.1B
BUG BUDERIM GROUP LTD 0.24 0 $20.6M
CGC COSTA GROUP HOLDINGS LTD 3.04 -1 $1.1B
FFI F.F.I. HOLDINGS LTD 5 -2 $50.6M
WNR WINGARA AG LTD 0.26 -4 $28.1M
OGA OCEAN GROWN ABALONE LTD 0.11 -4 $21.1M
AVG AUSTRALIAN VINTAGE LTD 0.435 -4 $126.3M
TWE TREASURY WINE ESTATES LTD 10.58 -5 $8.9B
ING INGHAMS GROUP LTD 3.3 -6 $1.2B
AS1 ANGEL SEAFOOD HOLDINGS LTD 0.145 -6 $19.1M
WOW WOOLWORTHS GROUP LTD 40.2 -6 $50.3M
MCA MURRAY COD AUSTRALIA LTD 0.14 -7 $73.3M
DBF DUXTON BROADACRE FARMS LTD 1.04 -8 $43.7M
ERG ENECO REFRESH LTD 0.061 -9 $16.6M
AAC AUSTRALIAN AGRICULTURAL CO 1.04 -13 $620.8M
TGR TASSAL GROUP LTD 3.67 -13 $750.7M
AHF AUSTRALIAN DAIRY NUTRITIONAL 0.075 -16 $25.2M
TFL TASFOODS LTD 0.095 -17 $26.2M
CSS CLEAN SEAS SEAFOOD LTD 0.605 -18 $65.3M
FFL FOUNDERS FIRST LTD 0.305 -20 $37.1M
GNC GRAINCORP LTD-A 4.26 -22 $965.8M
CCL COCA-COLA AMATIL LTD 8.88 -24 $6.4B
GRB GAGE ROADS BREWING CO 0.05 -26 $63.5M
FRM FARM PRIDE FOODS LTD 0.22 -27 $11.9M
KTD KEYTONE DAIRY CORP LTD 0.245 -27 $64.4M
NUC NUCHEV LTD 2.3 -27 $115.6M
RIC RIDLEY CORP LTD 0.69 -29 $219.0M
HUO HUON AQUACULTURE GROUP LTD 3.02 -32 $269.6M
SHV SELECT HARVESTS LTD 5.74 -33 $540.2M
WLD WELLARD LTD 0.044 -37 $21.8M
FOD FOOD REVOLUTION GROUP LTD/TH 0.0495 -46 $34.8M
MRG MURRAY RIVER ORGANICS GROUP 0.012 -53 $28.7M

China trade tensions escalating

While many stocks have seen demand remain stable (if not improve) despite COVID-19, Australia’s trade relationship with China is throwing up a few hurdles.

For many ASX-listed food stocks and many Australian private companies, China is the key export market.

“We haven’t been this exposed to one market since the 1950s, when we were still joined at the hip to the UK. And that was a very different political relationship,” Rabobank head of food & agribusiness research Tim Hunt said.

But trade tensions are now impacting food exports.

Already this year China has imposed a tariff on Australian barley as well as withdrawn accreditations from certain abattoirs. Most ASX stocks have been unaffected by these measures.

But earlier this week China launched an anti-dumping investigation into the Australian wine industry.

Large cap Treasury Wines Estates (ASX:TWE), which could be affected by this,  slid 14 per cent yesterday.

 

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

Hunt said there were other export opportunities for Australian companies, and it was better to supply to multiple markets than bank on just one.

“We are hopeful for the prospects of a Free Trade Agreement with the UK and EU which is taking place as Brexit occurs,” he told Stockhead.

“And we’re surrounded by heavily populated and increasingly wealthy countries in South East Asia as well. So there are other markets for us.

“That said, there’s only one China and there will only ever be one China in the history of Australian agriculture and so it’s hard to repeat the story that we’ve seen in that market.”