Technology is a competitive advantage in global agricultural markets, and the opportunities are plentiful for the Australian industry.
The Australian food and agribusiness sector is on the verge of immense growth; with technological innovation being key. Now is the time to seize the opportunities offered by food and agribusiness technology (AgriFood Tech) to lead the industry forward, rather than allowing competitors from around the world to dominate market share.
To remain competitive, Australian food and agribusinesses need to consider five key factors:
Recently, an industry-led council was tasked with the responsibility for the creation of a stronger, unified national brand to strengthen Australia’s competitive advantage in the world market. The goal was to position the country as a trusted exporter of premium-quality goods and services, including agricultural products. As an Australian industry we must unify, and put forth a well-crafted story that is seductive, engaging, and that positions the industry as world-leading.
Australian AgriFood Tech developments have previously focused on the local market. However, AgriFood Tech is global, and Australia’s mindset must shift accordingly or risk limiting its ability to attract the investment required to drive growth to the desired scale. A more coordinated and collaborative front must be executed, so that the experience for overseas investors doing business in Australia is not only seamless, but worthwhile.
Significant momentum and open-mindedness has been demonstrated within the Australian ecosystem to innovate, particularly with initiatives such as The Bridge Hub, various incubators and accelerators, and the evokeAG conference. Yet to date, the Australian ecosystem has been particularly risk-averse. To drive and adopt innovation a cultural shift is required. Risk, and the potential for failure, must be seen as opportunities for insight development that leads to growth and innovation.
There is a need for the Australian Government to support and cultivate an innovative culture. In Israel, the Government’s role is to bridge the gap between innovation and risk by stepping in to support funding in food and agribusiness where private investors deem it too risky. The Australian Government needs to similarly shape the focus and provide tools that support the sector to innovate, while also maintaining the agility to shift focus as required.
Global trends that continue to drive consumer behaviour include the shift towards tailored and personalised nutrition, product transparency and traceability, and a focus on sustainability. A disconnect exists in Australia between how food is produced and the communication of this to consumers. There are many captivating stories to be told about native Australian food products, stories that would enable the industry to apply a premium to products. Many opportunities exist to harvest and explore previously unexplored native foods such as bush tomatoes and wattle seeds, and to support the continual growth of Kakadu plums, all of which would sell a powerful, unique Australian story that would engage end consumers.
An additional element that can be implemented to further ensure Australian food and agribusiness continues to thrive on a global stage is connection and collaboration. Key to this is the sharing of challenges and solutions, and encouraging a collaborative mindset, particularly across state boundaries. This can be achieved by actively engaging in the social media matrix, and using it intelligently as a tactic to share Australia’s unique and captivating food production stories.