The Future Food Systems CRC will be funded in 2019 under Commonwealth Government’s Cooperative Research Centre Program.
The CRC was initiated by NSW Farmers Association, UNSW and Food Innovation Australia Ltd. It was then progressed by a consortium of over 60 founding industry, government and research participants through round 20 of the annual Commonwealth CRC selection process.
CRC research and capability programs will support participants in optimising the productivity of regional and peri-urban food systems, taking new products from prototype to market and implementing rapid, provenance-protected supply chains from farm to consumer.
When announcing the CRC on 27 March 2019, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Karen Andrews, said the aim of the CRC is to develop important new technologies, products and services that help solve major economic, environmental and social challenges facing Australia. “This CRC will work across the food supply chain and incorporate innovations in protected cropping, advanced manufacturing, smart logistics and food science to underpin high value industries in agrifood hubs,” Minister Andrews said.
In addition to providing research and development services to participants, the CRC will assist in graduating 60 PhD students and train a new generation through relevant education programs. The broader benefits of the CRC include new science and technology related jobs and education pathways, improved community health outcomes through more nutritious, fresh food and more food-based regional tourism.
CRC industry partners include large and small firms across farming, food manufacturing, technology services and marketing who share a vision for a new, connected value chain for high value goods – provenance protected fresh foods, through to advanced precision nutrition goods.
Research partners UNSW, Western Sydney University, Murdoch University, Queensland University of Technology, University of New England and Charles Darwin University bring expertise across engineering, planning, logistics, horticulture, precision nutrition and water and energy efficiency.
CRC government partners include WA, NT and NSW governments, local governments and regional community entities. Working initially with government and industry stakeholders in six food hub regions around Australia, the CRC will analyse local challenges and design integrated solutions that are grounded in collaborative business cultures: farms, greenhouse complexes, food factories, freight forwarders, and services providers linked by smart logistics in well-planned mosaic landscapes.
The CRC is presently in start up phase with a view to commencing operation in late 2019.
Fiona Simson is the President of National Farmers Federation and is a Board member of NRMA (NSW), the Australian Made Campaign Ltd, and AgStewardship Australia.
“Investment in high-tech, sustainable regional agrifood systems, co-located with airports to enable rapid freight, is central to reaping the rewards presented by domestic and Asian markets for value-added, provenance-protected healthy foods. Not just new technology but new partnerships, business models and true customer focus is key to future growth in our industry” Fiona Simson
“We aggregate non-saleable grade-2 fruit and turn it into pure, pasteurised cherry juice. Previously such fruit had been dumped. We’ve built a good domestic position and it’s also now on supermarket shelves in Singapore and Malaysia. We aim to exploit strong demand between the Southern and Northern Hemisphere seasons, when there are no fresh cherries on the market. Our labour costs make it hard to compete, however. Customised solutions for process automation, agile consumer packing and integrated QA and traceability are needed to help us capitalise on the ‘clean, green’ image of Australian produce and protect a reputation that’s taken a lot of work
We are building Melbourne’s first indoor vertical farm this year at Cranbourne in partnership with Chisholm Institute. Vertical farming is an emerging sector in the global agricultural industry and we want Australia to be a major player, both exporting equipment and providing technical services and know-how across the region. The CRC provides a national framework for us to partner with leading companies in the food, technology and horticulture space and a platform to collaborate with government and research institutions.
“The Future Food System CRC is closely aligned with Ruralco’s commitment to regional development. We are looking forward to making a contribution by collaborating in CRC projects focussed on smart processing and packing solutions, traceability and provenance protection and the rapid freight of premium goods. We will assist our customers in aligning with export precinct developments around Australia and assist them to embrace capability programs. As balancing profitability with sustainability is a major challenge, we will also participate in CRC projects focused on optimising energy and water efficiency in the supply chain.”
“We supply domestic and export markets with fresh fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes, berries and mangoes and are constantly innovating to improve products and service to our national and international customers. The Future Food Systems CRC can help us to fast track innovation in automation of pollination and harvest, energy and water efficiency, design of our future facilities, smart logistics and trade solutions, and “next product”opportunities with partners in the personalised foods and nutraceuticals sectors.”
“New international airports are built once in a hundred years. Planning for Western Sydney Airport presents an opportunity for our council to support an advanced STEM based agrifood and education cluster that leverages advanced freight facilities and generates high value jobs. We have 150 nationalities in our region and a growing Asian population. Our vision is to help make Liverpool an agrifood dynamo providing fresh food to local people and also the booming Asian market for premium foods.”
“We build smart food factories. The CRC provides a framework for us to work with partners to develop Australia’s next generation of value-adding facilities. The business case and understanding the full process from farm to consumer is just as important as the technology. Our clients can’t invest in an advanced supply line without knowing the specifics of raw materials, hygiene requirements, ingredient accounting, packaging format, smart labelling etc. The CRC’s collaborative model and systems integration approach is ideal for addressing commercial industry transformation challenges.”
Commercially focused innovation
“Fast-moving companies worldwide are establishing entirely new product and service hybrids that disrupt their own markets and generate fresh revenue streams.”
– Austrade, Australian Disruptive Technologies, 2017