Australian food exports to Asia grew 13 per cent in the December quarter and are expected to exceed $12 billion, the Supermarket to Asia Council said on Tuesday. This followed an 18 per cent improvement in the September quarter. Council executive director Jim Kennedy said strong performances in dairy, meat and horticulture exportsmore than offset a fall in canola sales to China. "These continuing good results follow economic recovery in most Asian markets, a favourable exchange rate, and improved labour productivity in the food and beverage manufacturing industry," he said in a statement. Meat exports increased $110 million to almost $3 billion, dairy exports rose $137 million to $1.6 billion. Seafood sales, which had stayed around $1 billion since 1993, jumped 29 per cent to over $1.2 billion. Japan remains Australia's largest single food market, taking 21 per cent of all food exports. Australia is now the third largest food exporter to Japan, accounting for seven per cent of all exports, behind the US and China. Referring to Japan Kennedy stated "It is vital that we maintain pressure on market access and tariff and quarantine issues to maintain our share of this important market."