28 June 2013

Food in the Asian Century – increasing Australia’s opportunities and impact

Victoria is the nation's biggest food exporter with exciting potential for growing its market share in Asian countries where rising incomes and time pressures are stimulating strong demand for high-quality food products.

More than 100 people from the food industry, government and research organisations met to discuss food exports to Asia at an event sponsored by the South East Melbourne Innovation Precinct (SEMIP) and the Eastern Regional Development Authority on 29 May 2013 at the Australian Synchrotron.

Presenters and participants discussed trends in the food sector, successful connections between food science and industry, opportunities for local companies to partner with global brands, and how Victorian businesses can gain or increase market share in the Asian region.

The keynote speaker was Nicolas Georges, R&D Director Premium Chocolate and Dairy, Asia Pacific for Kraft Foods. Nicolas shared the Ringwood Innovation Confectionery Centre of Excellence’s vision: innovation as the key to successfully re-energise the Australian food industry to find ways to reach up to 1.6 billion Asian consumers at its doorstep. Ways in which SMEs can become involved with Kraft at the Ringwood Innovation Centre include taking a Masters student on placement, joining Open Innovation projects or using some of the facilities available at cost.

Panzera_and_Sully_20130529nm_0387web.jpgHalinka Panzera, Managing Director BCD Market Intelligence, discussed the rise of the emerging middle class in China, which is currently estimated at about 300 million people. This emerging group is demanding quality imported goods that cannot currently be produced in China. There are opportunities for local Victorian SMEs to export their products to this discriminating sector, which wants quality imported foods free of preservatives, pesticides and contaminants. This is the best market sector for Australian producers to target.

Photo at right: Halinka Panzera (BDC Market Intelligence) and Russell Sully (World as One) at Food in the Asian Century

David Cookson, Head of Beamline Science and Operations at the Australian Synchrotron, provided several interesting examples of how synchrotron techniques can be applied in food science, including mapping of trace elements in wheat and rice grains, and learning how to boost the selenium content of broccoli. His key message to food businesses and researchers is that the synchrotron has a wide range of techniques available to assist food scientists.

Genevieve Bateman, Assistant Manager, Food Industry Policy in the Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education, gave participants the latest news about the rollout of the new food precinct as part of the Federal Government’s industry innovation precincts strategy. The Food Precinct will be located in Victoria with the aim of strengthening Australian food industries and businesses to win new business abroad and take advantage of economic opportunities emerging from growing international demand, especially from Asia.

De_Booy_tour_group_20130529nm_0444web.jpgAfter a superb morning tea ‘free of preservatives, pesticides, contaminants’, 40 participants enjoyed a tour of the technical facility.

For more information about using synchrotron techniques in food science and product development, contact Kerry Hayes or David Cookson


Photo at left: Jonathan de Booy (AS, second from right) leads a tour group at Food in the Asian Century