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2012 Summer - Can Australia become the food bowl of Asia?

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FPJ0904C - Ball - Whole of Value Chain Scenario for Asia-Pacific Food Leadership

Ball, G (2012), Whole of Value Chain Scenario for Asia-Pacific Food Leadership, Farm Policy Journal, Vol. 9, No. 4, pp. 1-9, Summer, Surry Hills, Australia. 


The rise of the Asian consumer presents a unique opportunity for Australian agriculture to secure its future and for the Australian food industry, already Australia’s largest manufacturing industry, to be a much more important and integrated contributor to the wealth of Australia; by gaining regional food leadership through a whole of value chain approach. Population growth to the middle of this century will increase world demand for food, while rising incomes in the Asian region will increase demand for high protein foods such as beef and dairy products. Despite numerous efforts to increase value added, most Australian food exports are commodities processed to the minimum level necessary for stability and transport, with supply chains fragmented and dominated by overseas interests. Changing world trade and consumption patterns make this ‘hands off’ approach to value chain management an unacceptably high risk, potentially leaving Australian producers in catch up mode. The rapid growth of Asian markets, especially Indonesia, and the rising Asian middle class creates large consumer markets that are close to Australia. This paper proposes that large-scale market and consumer-led exports of packaged consumer foods and customised ingredients, representing a significant proportion of the increased production from Australia’s most competitive industries (wheat, beef and dairy), will provide the best path for agriculture to maximise economic growth for the nation. To realise these opportunities, industry bodies, companies and academia supported by government must engage in critical leadership roles. Government must encourage the research to attain market insight and the identification of realistic paths to market in order to create a tangible vision for the industry and to encourage participation by Australia’s larger companies. This paper outlines key criteria and gives concrete examples to illustrate the opportunity. For example, based on Australia’s academic capability in nutrition, Australia could take leadership in understanding the region’s nutrition and diet needs, thereby providing the basis for value added foods. This ‘scenario’ approach helps identify the important supply chain and productivity challenges and to provide a basis for planning.



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