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Victoria

Event Recap - ACBC/RASV Agribusiness Leaders Lunch - Future of Food

27 September 2017

Amid the excitement of the annual Royal Melbourne Show, we were delighted to partner with our members, the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria (RASV), for the Agribusiness Leaders Lunch – Future of Food on 27 September.

110 guests joined us to gain insight into the use of digital technology in Australian agriculture, and how this impacts food value chains, agricultural productivity, provenance, food safety, and our international competitiveness.

Mr Ed Gannon, Editor of the Weekly Times, opened up the formal proceedings, which began with the presentation of the Emerging Leaders in Victoria Agriculture (ELVA) awards. An initiative of the RASV, the awards recognise people under 40 years of age who have demonstrated leadership qualities and make a contribution to their profession, industry or community. ACBC Victoria warmly congratulates this year’s winners; Mr Adam Mountjoy, Mr Justin Corbitt, and Dr Sherrie Lee.

Following lunch was the first keynote presentation from Dr Wei Siang Yu from Borderless Healthcare Group. His presentation focused on Borderless Healthcare’s ‘Borderless Cattle’ – the world’s first farm-to-table platform and beef sharing economy.

The key principle of the project is to sell investors the cattle, but not the farm. The technology enables farmers to sell cattle as they raise it, enabling wealthy Chinese consumers and upmarket restaurants to watch the cattle in real time. Drones will film the livestock and farmers will be encouraged to interface directly with their Chinese consumers. The intention is to satisfy the Chinese desire to know as much as possible about the origins of the food they eat given past food safety problems in China.

Dr Wei continued by outlining some key trends and opportunities in this area, namely increasing beef consumption in China; the rise of health-conscious food consumption and healthy food delivery services; the recent relaxation of regulations allowing US beef to be imported into China; and the size of the Chinese market.

This presentation was followed by our second keynote from Mr Doug McNicholl, Value Chain Relationship Manager, Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA). His presentation outlined MLA’S remit, structure and strategic plan. He went on to outline the CSIRO’s global food and agribusiness mega trends, which include:

  • A less predictable planet – limited resources, unpredictable climate events, more potent microbes, pests and diseases
  • Health on the mind – aging population, rising levels of chronic disease and increasing social awareness around health and wellbeing
  • Choosy customers – rising wealth, increasing choice and greater market access, are all driving demand for a more diverse range of foods
  • One world – new market opportunities are created as food and beverage value chains become increasingly global
  • Smarter food chains – leaner, faster and more agile value chains being created by the use of big data and more sophisticated e-commerce platforms

Doug’s presentation continued by exploring technology as an enabler of value creation and capture, as well as technologies changing the farm. He concluded by discussing emerging platforms and highlighted the fact that while Australia is getting very good at business as usual, it will be increasingly important to think about how to add value and profit.

The two keynotes were followed by an engaging and informative panel discussion and Q&A session moderated by Chair of ACBC Victoria’s Agribusiness & Food Working Group, Mr Barry White, Director of ProEx Developments. The panel welcomed our two keynotes, as well as Mr Ben Van Delden, Partner, Head of Markets and AgTech Sector Leader, KPMG; and Mr David La Ferla, Executive Chairman, SENSAND.

Topics covered included how Australia can meet rising demand for quality food and remain competitive; how to more efficiently use technology, information and data; intellectual property and technological innovation; and managing biosecurity risks.

Ben emphasised that a key challenge for Australia will be ensuring that our high-quality research and information is accessed by investors and makes its way into business models. Fostering relationships between higher education institutions and industry will be vital in bringing industry closer to research. David also drew attention to the importance of being tech enabled and human centred. He also underlined the importance of productivity and the efficient use of resources. Agriculture is moving from a physical asset industry to one with more focus on intellectual capital. Productivity is generated by intellectual capital, which is generated by data.

The panel discussion concluded with a few key points such as the importance of different food production techniques; not necessarily feeding the masses but feeding the premium markets; and finally, the nexus between technology and adoption across value chains.

ACBC Victoria kindly thanks all our speakers for their giving us their time and sharing their expertise. We also extend our warm thanks to Mr Mark O’Sullivan, CEO of the RASV and his team for working together with us to create such an outstanding event.