Speaking at the National Farmers Federation National Congress on Wednesday, Forrest said while demand for Australian produce in China was still there, there were still significant issues surrounding the marketing of products.
The ASA100 promotes, develops and advances international trade in Australian agriculture and manufactured food products, with a particular focus on China, for the benefit of the Australian economy and community.
Forrest said in-fighting in Australia between brands, governments and companies regarding messaging and marketing is hurting the marketing of Aussie produce abroad.
“If we want to absolutely multiply our markets through tapping into even just a fraction of Chinese potential, let alone all of world potential, we can’t do it the same way,” Forrest said in his keynote address.
“The clear value proposition of Safe Australia, a Clean, Green Australia, was, and is, being completely lost overseas.
“You can walk for miles down Chinese supermarket aisles and not be able to notice a uniform Australian brand. So therefore, how can you buy it?”
Forrest said as a result, the Australian industry was still “confusing” to China, which was costing the sector dearly.
“It’s like a malignant cancer creeping up on you, you never quite know it’s there until it’s too late,” Forrest said.
“This industry is still fragmented, unfocussed and characterised by honest, well-meaning people, but with disparate and non-aligned export goals.”
Forrest said now was the time to align Australian produce under one logo and brand.
“Huge countries and companies overseas will take Australia’s market share if we can’t be easily identified by the consumer under one brand, one logo.
“We must stand united to counterbalance the enormous bargaining power of overseas players.“We, the ASA100, and our partner The National Farmers Federation say this to Government: Don’t be afraid of failure, embrace it, risk it. We must have a common logo and brand.”
The National Farmers’ Federation Congress, which will run over the next two days at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra, will feature some of the country’s most prominent business leaders and policy makers, with a focus on embracing innovation to boost the prosperity of the sector.NFF president, Brent Finlay, said the Congress was one of the most important agricultural policy and economic discussions in the country.
“We have business leaders including Andrew Forrest and Anthony Pratt, the Deputy Prime Minster, and a range of other key politicians as well as some of the best minds in innovation and science speaking this year to a record crowd of delegates from across the agricultural supply chain,” Finlay said.
“We know Australian farmers and other agriculture supply chain participants are some of the best in the world but by developing, investing in and embracing technology and innovation we can even more strongly position our industry as a global market leader for premium quality food and fibre.
Finlay said key policy areas including telecommunications, digital infrastructure and innovation would be the focal point of the next two days.
“These are key factors for rural and regional Australians and we want to discuss robust policy which provides a basis for strong performance in the sector,” he said.
The Congress concludes on Thursday.