Future Foods

The health and wellness mega trend

Food Innovation Australia Ltd (FIAL) research has projected massive growth in demand for goods with verified nutrition and quality attributes, with most of the new demand in Asia. By 2025:

  • the global market for foods catering to demand for trusted fine foods, indigenous foods, and nutritious ‘convenience meals’ alone is projected to be AU$2.7–AU$3.6 trillion;
  • the ‘health and wellness’ category – which includes plant-based protein, organic foods, ‘free from’ foods catering to those with allergies and on special diets – is projected to be worth AU$3.4 trillion per annum; and
  • the emerging market for ‘targeted eating’ – product reformulation to reduce fat and sugar content, functional or fortified foods, and ‘personalised’ products designed to address specific nutrient needs and health concerns – is projected to be worth AU$690–AU$770 billion per annum.

Building scale in these markets entails new collaboration across the agrifood value chain, innovation across logistics and manufacturing, and the development of specialised industry clusters.

Planning for success

The CRC is helping to drive growth in regional and peri-urban food-industry clusters in locations around Australia including Liverpool City (Western Sydney), Peel (Western Australia), Gippsland, Darwin, Armidale and Coffs Harbour, and will share tools and learnings with other potential food-industry cluster locations.

Stakeholders in these hubs aim to build regional capacity to value-add local produce and build export capability in the CRC’s target product categories.

Agrifood clusters have proved highly successful in nations such as the Netherlands, Canada, USA and Sweden. Our model clusters growers and manufacturers around rapid transport hubs, supported by streamlined logistics systems.

Research themes include:

Developing regional food plans

Applying ‘industry cluster’ principles, the CRC is working with government, industry and community stakeholders to establish a knowledge base and shared targets for future food industry growth. To this end, CRC analytics services are working to clarify boundary conditions and opportunities as farmers, manufacturers and service providers work together to set goals, build capability and attract investment. Collaborative industry planning has been proven internationally to support the development of distinctive regional specialisations and high-value brands.

Sustainable, high-tech agrifood precincts

Strategic statutory planning, civil engineering, energy, logistics and design solutions are needed urgently to underpin investment in Australia’s future food industry in urban and regional centres.

The NSW and Western Australian governments have committed to creating high-tech agrifood industrial precincts in Liverpool City and Peel, respectively. The Peel precinct is already zoned and includes joint ventures with Singaporean firms. The Liverpool precinct will be developed in parallel with the new Western Sydney Airport and surrounding ‘Aerotropolis’ over the next 10 years. The CRC will provide analytics and design research as well as applied circular-economy solutions for water and energy infrastructure to help support development of these precincts.

This activity will support the billion-dollar investment being made in our food-hub regions under the City Deal and regional development programs. At different scale, the CRC aims to support similar approaches in Darwin and in other participating food hubs.

High-tech indoor farming

Scaling up protected cropping in our food hubs is a central aim of the CRC. We have research projects underway developing next-generation solutions across automation, informatics and facility design in partnership with major growers such as Costa and Perfection Fresh, and SME technology entrepreneurs such as Greenbio and Sprout Stack, which are developing ultra-high-tech vertical solutions.

Circular-economy solutions

Future food facilities and precincts will have high water and energy demand as well as waste streams to manage. The CRC’s advanced-systems approach integrates water recycling, renewable energy and waste management at civil and facility scale.

Smart logistics and inland ports

Building scale in high-value markets for perishable goods demands investment in advanced intermodal logistics. Australia has the potential for highly efficient cross-border zones based on digital platforms, such as blockchain, that enable fast and efficient trade of food. The CRC will work with freight and planning stakeholders to design efficient intermodal solutions for premium goods. Western Sydney Airport, Perth Airport and Darwin Airport present exceptional opportunities in this regard.