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Message from the CEO

I’ve attended a number of national events recently which are worth reporting upon. The first of these was the World Forum on Foreign Direct Investment in Sydney which was sponsored by the NSW Government. Take home messages were many, but the more notable were how global economic uncertainty is holding back investment. While not as attention grabbing as opportunities in Agtech or Fintech, more  mainstream and often “mundane” innovation will be the bigger driver of economic growth – particularly in the food industry.

I met a number of impressive operators at national Hort Innovation and Food services events in Melbourne. Changing consumer tastes in food products were very striking and mean that producers now need to be much more engaged with what people want and meeting community expectations in food. Among figures produced by Nielsen were a 35% increase on online grocery sales in just the last year. This online phenomenon translates to making more use of online platforms, which now abound, for direct sales and exports.   

Finally the first meeting of the Future Food Systems CRC in Sydney was very encouraging. It is obvious that that this CRC represents what will become a major national effort to produce much more food in local hubs – for which innovative business models, new technologies and innovation will be par for the course. It will require a collaborative effort on the part of businesses, government, research organisations and RDAs to help realise the vision. The impressive plans around Sydney’s second airport “Aerotropolis” are testimony to what needs to happen at an appropriate scale many cities in Australia. Planning for intensive food production – for domestic consumption as well as export will become the formula for horticulture and other types of products through time.

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