CSIRO publishes Food & Agribusiness Roadmap

Posted by Andrea Hogan on 17th July 2017

Australians could one day be eating allergy-free nuts and edible packaging according to the CSIRO which announced its Food & Agribusiness Roadmap at the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology’s 50th Anniversary Convention in Sydney today.

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.

Developed after 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 is well positioned to act as a “delicatessen of high-quality products”.

“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.

The Roadmap was developed in conjunction with Food Innovation Australia (FIAL).

Fast facts from the report

Australia’s current situation

  • Australia exports over AUD $40 billion worth of food and beverages each year, and 88 per cent of these exports are bulk commodities.
  • While Australian SMEs rank among the most innovative in the world, FIAL has found that only 5 per cent of our employing food and agribusinesses are ‘businesses of tomorrow’ that actively pursue new markets, take risks, connect well to end markets and continually invest in capability and knowledge.

Projections and trends

  • Less predictable growing conditions, more connected global value chains and customers who demand healthier, more convenient and traceable foods are the major trends influencing food and agribusiness in Australia.
  • By 2021, markets for naturally healthy (US $291 billion), food intolerance (US $42 billion) and organic products (US $45 billion) are expected to have grown at up to 4.5 per cent compound annual growth rate.
  • The global edible insect market is expected to grow from US$34 million in 2014 to over $520 m by 2023.
  • Australian businesses are increasingly value-adding. For the first time in Australia’s history, value-added/premium foods accounted for the majority (60 per cent) of food export growth in the three years to 2016.

Value-adding opportunities for growth

  • Products for health and wellbeing, including free-from and natural foods, supplements, fortified and functional foods, and personalised nutrition.
  • Sustainability-driven products and processes, including those that convert waste, provide alternative protein sources, sustainable packaging and green and ethical value chains.
  • Premium foods, including high-quality, convenient, fresh and packaged products; luxury products and gifts; tourism; and novel tastes, smells and textures.

Growth enablers to equip food and agribusiness for the long-term

  • Traceability and provenance: Food fraud costs the global food industry an estimated US$40 billion each year. Key technologies in the F&A sector include digital tracking (RFID chips, bar codes, QR codes, blockchain) and biological readings (isotopic analysis, DNA fingerprinting, biomarker compounds).
  • Food safety and biosecurity: An estimated 600 million (almost one in 10 people in the world) fall ill after eating contaminated food and 420,000 die every year, with the impacts greatest in Africa and South East Asia. Technologies that can increase food safety include microwave assisted thermal sterilisation and advanced packaging, such as labels that change colour with temperature or time, release preservatives or absorb moisture or odours.
  • Market intelligence and access: There is a significant lack of market intelligence within Australian F&A SMEs. Sensors and data analytics can track the end consumer and how the product is being used. Additional research can better understand regional preferences of different markets, especially in Asia.
  • Collaboration and knowledge sharing: Regional clusters, business consortia and more holistic R&D solutions will enhance the collaboration needed to generate scale, efficiency and agility across value chains and markets.
  • Skills: In coming decades, companies will need employees with broad-ranging skills, combining technical knowledge with an understanding of supply chains, experience with digital platforms and strong interpersonal skills. Both tertiary education and more structured on-the-job training have a role to play in developing these skills.

The Food & Agribusiness Roadmap can be accessed here.


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