Assistant Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Craig Laundy, highlighted the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship in driving new economic growth in the industry at the annual Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology's (AIFST’s) 50th Anniversary Convention in Sydney.
Releasing its new Food & Agribusiness Roadmap at the convention, the CSIRO is charting a course for products, technology and innovation to secure future success in the sector.
Keeping a greater share of food processing onshore and better differentiating Australian food products are major themes across the Roadmap, which calls on businesses to act quickly or risk losing future revenue streams to the competitive global market.
Developed with widespread industry consultation and analysis, the Roadmap seeks to assist Australian food and agribusinesses with the desire to pursue growth and new markets.
Deputy Director of CSIRO Agriculture and Food, Dr Martin Cole, said Australia was well positioned to act as a delicatessen of high-quality products that meet the needs of millions of informed and discerning customers both here and abroad.
"Australian businesses are among the most innovative in the world, and together with our world-class scientists, can deliver growth in the food and agribusiness sector amid unprecedented global change," Dr Cole said.
"Less predictable growing conditions, increasingly global value chains and customers who demand healthier, more convenient and traceable foods are driving businesses to new ways of operating,” he said.
"Advances are already being made through the use of blockchain technology and the development of labels that change colour with temperature or time, or are programmed to release preservatives.”
The Roadmap was developed in collaboration with the government-funded food and agribusiness growth centre Food Innovation Australia Limited (FIAL).
Recently, FIAL launched their Sector Competitiveness Plan, which outlines the over-arching industry vision to grow the share of Australian food in the global marketplace and the necessary strategy to achieve the vision.
FIAL Chairman Peter Schutz said with the growing Asian middle class, Australia is in the box seat to take advantage of the many emerging export opportunities.
"Consumers are looking for differentiated products that cater to their needs,” Mr Schutz said.
"This is especially exciting for Australian food and agribusinesses which have the capability to respond with customised and niche products,” he said,
Australia exports over $40 billion worth of food and beverages each year with 63 per cent headed for Asia.
Dr Cole said that Australia is a trusted supplier of sustainable, authentic, healthy, high quality and consistent products.
"We must focus on these strengths and enhance the level of value-adding to our products," Dr Cole said.
"Recent Austrade analysis shows early signs of such a shift, as for the first time in Australia's history value-added foods have accounted for the majority (60%) of food export growth,” he said.
The Roadmap outlines value-adding opportunities for Australian products in key growth areas, including health and wellbeing, premium convenience foods and sustainability-driven products that reduce waste or use fewer resources.
Five key enablers for these opportunities are explored in the Roadmap: traceability and provenance, food safety and biosecurity, market intelligence and access, collaboration and knowledge sharing, and skills.
The Roadmap calls for improved collaboration and knowledge sharing to generate scale, efficiency and agility across rapidly changing value chains and markets.
"To survive and grow, the challenge facing Australia's 177,000 businesses in the food and agribusiness sector is to identify new products, services and business models that arise from the emerging needs of tomorrow's global customers," Dr Cole said.