A trade expert says Australian food exporters are up against a disproportionately high number of trade barriers in Asia.
Australian food exporters are facing a wave of non-tariff trade restrictions making it difficult for them to penetrate overseas markets, including China and Indonesia, a trade expert says.
The dining boom is seen as the next big opportunity to replace Australia's mining boom.
But strong demand among Asia's growing middle class for Australian baby formula, dairy and meat products does not mean it is an easy, lucrative ride for Australian exporters.
Asian trade expert Danny Burrows says Australia is Asia's "health food basket" but exporters are burdened by a high level of trade restrictions.
"We have a niche in premium high quality food and grocery products and these regulations are particularly focused on this end of the market because regulators are quickly suspicious of products with big health claims," Mr Burrows told the Australian Food and Grocery Council's annual conference on Thursday.
"Because we play at that healthy premium end, the barriers have a disproportionate impact on our trade."
Mr Burrows, principal of advisory firm TradeWorthy and a former Australian government trade negotiator, said some non-tariff measures were valid, while others were simply in place to restrict overseas competition.
Global tariffs were at historical lows but non-tariff barriers, measures that make exporting more difficult or costly by imposing greater sanitary, quality and other conditions, were at a record high, Mr Burrows said.
According to data from trade research service Global Alert, 2015 had the highest-ever number of new non-tariff measures globally, he said.
"China is perhaps in the middle of the pack when it comes to predictability around their new measures," he said.
"Markets like Indonesia, which the government is telling people to increase their trade with, are much more complex to deal with."
He said every time a new trade law is passed, there's an impact on Australian exporters trying to gain a foothold or trying to expand their business in Asia.
Mr Burrows, also a former legal counsel with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said the federal government needed to spend more money raising awareness about the impact of non-tariff barriers so companies can be better informed.