Woolworths finds success at Naturally Good Expo

Woolworths found success at the Naturally Good Expo a the ICC in Sydney on May 31, with the ‘Meet the Buyer’ event hosted by the Food & Agribusiness Growth Centre (trading as FIAL). The event consisted of an industry briefing on Woolworths’ health food strategy and on how to become a supplier to Woolworths.

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The custodians of Brand Australia

Latitude 28° is the amalgamation of two longstanding livestock families, proudly taking Australian beef to international markets. Seeing themselves as ‘custodians of brand Australia’, the Latitude 28° team feels a duty to uphold the legacy of Australia’s agricultural industry, offering a brand and product that consumers can trust.
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Unlocking $200B for food and agribusinesses

The Australian Food and Agribusiness sector is set to unlock over $200B in value and 300,000 jobs by 2030. But we need you to make it happen.
Despite the extraordinary challenges and disruption this past year has presented Australia’s food and agribusiness sector – its future is immensely positive.

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Natural Evolution to benefit from $18b food waste opportunity

A scorching afternoon in far North Queensland, boiling bitumen and a hand of green cavendish bananas crushed into dust by the wheel of the tractor. This was how Krista and Rob Watkins drove head first into an innovative use for the 500 tonnes of bananas destined for landfill in North Queensland each week.
Krista and Rob Watkins’ company, Natural Evolution is the first company in the world to commercially produce gluten-free flour from bananas. It now has an ever-growing range of highly nutritious food products produced from waste bananas and sweet potatoes. Ranging from its signature Green Banana Baking Flour, through to baking pre-mixes, health supplements, skincare, and now vodka.
According to a recent report published by the Food and Agribusiness Growth Centre, trading as Food Innovation Australia (FIAL), by creating value-added products from food waste, food and beverage businesses such as Natural Evolution could be contributing $18 billion in economic value by 2030.
“Being able to undertake scientific research was essential to our ability to scale up, increase our production capacity and expand our product range. I really encourage other businesses to tap into the collaboration and resource-sharing that FIAL makes possible” said Natural Evolution founder and managing director, Krista Watkins.
FIAL supports businesses such as Natural Evolution to innovate through connecting them with the funding and collaborative research expertise needed to commercialise innovative products and services.
“With the majority of Australian food and beverage businesses being small-to-medium enterprises, providing these businesses with access to the expertise needed to innovate is critical,” said FIAL general manager innovation, Dr. Barry McGookin.
Krista Watkins will be taking part in a live Q&A on collaborative innovation platform, the Food Matrix, on Thursday 19 November. Register via the Food Matrix. Natural Evolution was also featured in the fifth edition of FIAL’s Celebrating Australian Food and Agribusiness Innovations book.
 

Australian food and agribusiness set to soar

From drought and bushfires, through to COVID-19 and recession. Australia’s food and agribusiness (F&A) sector has navigated major disruptions over the past 24 months.
Despite these challenges, a report released today reveals that the contribution of Australia’s F&A sector to Australian annual GDP could surpass $200 Billion by 2030, more than 3 times greater than its current value of $61 Billion.
Commissioned by the Food and Agribusines Growth Centre, Capturing the Prize(link to report) takes into account the current impact on the sector of COVID-19 to quantify the 10 Future Trends and 19 Growth Opportunities that – if pursued – will unlock the sector’s untapped potential of over $200 Billion within the decade.
The Growth Centre’s Managing Director, Dr Mirjana Prica said “Capturing the Prize is rich with the insights required to unleash this significant growth potential. However, making it a reality is not a forgone conclusion – if food and agribusinesses are to reap these rewards, business-as-usual will not suffice”.
Capturing the Prize highlights a growing sentiment amongst F&A leaders – food and agribusinesses need to operate differently: adopting a whole-of-value-chain approach that unlocks value on either side of the farm gate. This would facilitate the scaling up necessary to boost competitiveness and ensure supply chain resilience.
In addition to identifying the 19 Growth Opportunities that could see the value of the Australian F&A sector soar beyond $200 Billion, Capturing the Prize also reveals that pursuing these growth opportunities is estimated to create an additional 300,000 jobs by 2030.
Capturing the Prize has the potential to transform the livelihoods of the sector’s 176,000 businesses, the majority being small-to-medium-sized, family-run businesses. It also has the potential to finally align industry direction, government policy, and commercial investment behind a shared target. This will focus efforts to see the sector’s contribution to Australian annual GDP exceeding $200 Billion by 2030,” said the Food and Agribusiness Growth Centre Chair, Dr Michele Allan

More food, less waste for farmers

Today, on International Day of Awareness on Food Loss and Waste Reduction, the Food and Agribusiness Growth Centre has released new data on Australia’s food waste.

The data shows the figures for food loss on farms have decreased.  This new information reveals that while the numbers for fruit loss are up, the percentage of vegetables lost have come down. Broad acre crop loss has also decreased, due to less production in the drought.

These findings are part of the Growth Centre’s National Food Waste Feasibility Study (Feasibility Study). This phase of the Feasibility Study is collecting the most recent data to update the National Food Waste Baseline released by the Australian Government in 2019. This will enable identification of sector ‘hotspots’ with high waste profiles and direct focussed interventions to drive the biggest improvements.

“Having an accurate picture of where food waste is coming from and where it is going is critical. Knowing whether it is left in the paddock by farmers or thrown in the bin by households, is important in developing initiatives to reduce overall waste and capture nutritional value,” said Max Van Biene, head of strategy at Edge Environment.

As an independent organisation supporting the implementation of the Australian Government’s National Food Waste Strategy, the Growth Centre’s Feasibility Study has been taking a deep dive into the causes, nature, scale and impacts of food loss and waste in Australia.

The Feasibility Study was identified in the Growth Centre’s Roadmap for Reducing Australia’s Food Waste by Half by 2030, as a critical first step in reducing Australia’s food waste.

Australia’s largest dedicated sustainability consultancy, Edge Environment, was appointed by the Growth Centre as the lead firm on this project, alongside WRAP, 3Keel and Lifecycles. This international consortium, with globally recognised experts, is testing Australia’s commitment to halve food waste by 2030 and the actions required to achieve this target.

“The National Food Waste Strategy Feasibility Study will provide the insights required to set an industry-led agenda to prioritise and focus efforts to maximise the  benefits of halving Australia’s food waste by 2030,” said Dr Mirjana Prica, managing director of the Food and Agribusiness Growth Centre.

Food and agribusiness stakeholders are encouraged to have their say on the preliminary Baseline findings by attending a free webinar on October 21 2020.

Food exporters go digital

It is now over four months since the World Health Organisation declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. The far-reaching impacts of this invisible spreading disease have shone a spotlight like never before on the fragility of supply chains and the over-exposure of many businesses’ sales channels. Like tourism and higher education, Australia’s food and agribusiness industry instantly felt the effects of this unprecedented disruption.

For the businesses that service the $11 billion food service and wholesale sector, many of their customers were forced to close almost overnight – from hotels and restaurants, through to schools and nursing homes. This decimated the sales of these businesses, simultaneously leaving them with an oversupply of stock that they needed to find alternate retail channels to sell their wares.

The story was not too different for the businesses that export the almost $42bn of food and agribusiness products each year. When countries around the globe began closing their borders to passenger planes, Australian food and agribusinesses were left stranded as to how to get their products to market. Unbeknownst to many of the passengers sitting up the top of the cabin, these planes are loaded with tonnes of perishable food products.

With the food and agribusiness industry being such a significant contributor to the Australian economy, the Australian government acted quickly to support it to navigate this disruption. The export sector was given a $170 million to get it back up and moving. This saw hundreds of flights relaunched to deliver produce to the key export markets – China, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.

Despite the movement of freight being reinitiated, it was far from business as usual for industry. For food and agribusiness exporters, continued growth is essential. This growth requires regular, in-market presence. With international travel and tradeshow attendance an impossibility, the sector was left scrambling for how to maintain the connectivity with customers and markets that will aid recovery. As the Food and Agribusiness Growth Centre, Food Innovation Australia Limited (FIAL), responded immediately to this pressing sector need with a number of digital solutions.

In just over a month after the new state of play became apparent, FIAL launched a new event – Virtual Meet the Buyer. A digital version of its tried and tested Meet the Buyer, where suppliers are able to connect with international buyers from all around the globe and access in-market information. Virtual Meet the Buyer is the only one of its kind in Australia. It provides export-ready Australian food and agribusinesses the opportunity to secure a one-on-one meeting with buyers – from China’s Shandong Province, through to the most recent event in Thailand.

To date, over 220 meetings between Australian businesses and international buyers have been facilitated. The benefits of this are three-fold for the sector. Commercial outcomes continue to be secured; Australian businesses can keep their foot in the door of a fickle market by creating connections with new buyers; and these businesses can ensure they are still able to have those ‘on-the-ground’ conversations with buyers that are critical for understanding the market potential for their products.

P’Petual and Beston Global Foods are just two of the businesses that have begun exporting to new customers off the back of attending Virtual Meet the Buyers in Singapore, Shandong, and Thailand.

What makes this initiative particularly interesting is how it accelerates the negotiation process. Many will be familiar with the length of time that it can take to convert a contact met at a tradeshow into a deal – sometimes months, even years. As Cathy Owen and Jenny Daniher, co-founders of Garlicious Grown put it, “Virtual Meet the Buyer cuts through a lot of the noise from the tradeshow floor.”

The matched nature of the meetings means that conversations are held in a secure virtual room between buyers that have indicated interest in a supplier’s products. This targeted approach is seeing export relationships continue to be formalised.

Underpinning the delivery of the Virtual Meet the Buyer has been FIAL’s Australian Food Catalogue. The Australian Food Catalogue is a free digital platform that allows Australian export-ready suppliers to showcase their products to hundreds of qualified international buyers.

“We have seen a sharp increase in buyers registering for the platform since travel restrictions came into effect. From here, buyers can request a meeting with a supplier that takes their interest,” said FIAL general manager markets, Rod Arenas.

According to Arenas, the demand for Australian products is not the problem. Australia has earned a great reputation for being a source of clean, safe and healthy foods. This is particularly attractive in the current climate so demand is remaining steady, if not rising. The hurdle has been maintaining connectivity to markets. Based off the response, the Virtual Meet the Buyer and Australian Food Catalogue have filled this void.

It is easy to see how these digital solutions that have arisen from disruption may persist even when international travel is back on the cards and tradeshows begin to repopulate the calendar.

The majority of Australia’s food and agribusiness sector is made up of small to medium sized enterprises. For them, having the financial and staffing resources to travel makes these virtual events and platforms an attractive avenue through which to grow their global presence.

Neil Offner, managing director of Australian Organic Exports, highlighted this exact sentiment when he stated that, “attending the Virtual Meet the Buyer is a low-risk investment – 20 minutes – to meet with a buyer that has requested to meet with you”.

“Being the Food and Agribusiness Growth Centre, we work incredibly closely with industry to deliver the bottoms-up offerings that increase the productivity and competitiveness of Australia’s food and agribusinesses. We saw a need for facilitating connections between suppliers and buyers so we delivered,” said Arenas.

As to whether FIAL will continue to deliver these digital initiatives once travel returns?
“If industry is asking for it, then we will offer it.”

Demand for Australian food exports prevails

Whether it’s a melt-in-your-mouth mozzarella for pizza night or a tangy parmesan to top off your favourite pasta, Dairy Free Downunder is bringing you all of your favourite cheese products, minus the dairy.

One of Australia’s only large-scale vegan cheese manufacturers, Dairy Free Downunder is  becoming a global player in the market for plant-based foods.

Due to attending Food Innovation Australia Limited (FIAL)’s Virtual Meet the Buyer events, Dairy Free Downunder has now started exporting to new customers in both Indonesia and Vietnam.

This development will see the family-owned business expand its global presence beyond its current customers in Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Brunei, Malaysia, and Singapore.

“FIAL’s Virtual Meet the Buyer has seen us continue to connect with new customers, despite travel restrictions,” said Dairy Free Down Under co-founder, Kevin Flanagan.

As the Food and Agribusiness Growth Centre, FIAL quickly pivoted when travel restrictions and international tradeshow cancellations came into play, launching its Virtual Meet the Buyer initiative.

FIAL’s Virtual Meet the Buyer provides export-ready Australian food and agribusinesses the opportunity to secure a one-to-one meeting with buyers from all around the globe. From China’s Shandong and Jiangsu Provinces, through to Thailand and Singapore.

“Australian products are still very much in demand. Our Virtual Meet the Buyer event enables Australian businesses to overcome the hurdle of travel restrictions, maintaining and even increasing their connectivity to international markets. This will be key to sector recovery and growth,” said FIAL General Manager of Markets, Rod Arenas.

Commencing today, the fourth Virtual Meet the Buyer will see 142 one-to-one meetings between 48 Australian export-ready suppliers and 45 of Jiangsu Province’s key buyers. Participating buyers include Alibaba’s Hema supermarket and leading e-commerce retailer, Sunning. In-demand products range from superfood smoothies and functional coconut waters, to sparkling waters and premium cheeses. It was delivered in collaboration with the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, Austrade Shanghai, the Jiangsu State Government, and Global Victoria China

How clusters drive innovation in the food sector

From roasted pulse snacks and pickled bamboos shoots, through to medicinal mushroom lagers and organic fermented foods. These are just some of the trailblazing innovations driving the recovery and growth of the food and agribusiness industry.

As the Food and Agribusiness Growth Centre, Food Innovation Australia Limited (FIAL) recognises the critical role innovation will play in seeing industry unlock its potential.

In celebration of Australia’s renowned ingenuity, FIAL has published the fifth edition of its Celebrating Australian Food and Agribusiness Innovations.

While this is the fifth year that FIAL has been profiling Australian food and agribusiness innovations, this edition of Celebrating Australian Food and Agribusiness Innovations is the first of its kind. The over 45 featured innovations all have one thing in common – the businesses behind them all belong to clusters.

Clusters – geographically proximate groups of interconnected companies that benefit from being able to tap into a local ecosystem of knowledge and relationships – are a growing force in Australia’s food and agribusiness industry.

With approximately 180,000 businesses, largely SMEs, scattered across a very large geographical area, the case is growing that clustering is essential for building the capability, capacity and confidence necessary for businesses to innovate and get the economies of scale to compete on the world stage.

FIAL has been a key driver behind food and agribusiness clustering in Australia. Through its Cluster Programme, up to $300,000 of matched funding was provided to four of the clusters included in Celebrating Australian Food and Agribusiness Innovations.

“FIAL is proud to highlight the incredible work Australia’s clusters are doing to support our industry. It has never been more important than today to innovate and back our clusters in helping our businesses, regions and cities grow towards positive futures,” said Dr Mirjana Prica, FIAL managing director.

Enhancing the export capability of Australian food businesses

As the Food and Agribusiness Industry Growth Centre, Food Innovation Australia Limited (FIAL) is working with industry to grow Australia’s share of the food and beverage pie in the global marketplace. This requires boosting the competitiveness and productivity of the sector as a whole. FIAL supports industry in achieving this aim by sharing knowledge, improving capabilities, increasing opportunities for collaboration and commercialisation, and facilitating connections with new markets.

“Since travel restrictions came into play, FIAL quickly pivoted to offer its Meet the Buyer initiative in a virtual format. This has seen many businesses develop new connections with buyers in China, Singapore and Thailand,” said FIAL’s general manager commercial, Rod Arenas. “I don’t think it will be business as usual for international trade, but with disruption comes opportunities.”

FIAL will continue to offer its virtual Meet the Buyer events in markets all around the world, allowing Australian businesses to create those face-to-face connections that are critical to capitalising on export opportunities.

Arenas points out that Australian producers also stand to benefit from Australia’s reputation for being a source for high-quality, safe, and traceable products.

“Since COVID-19, we have seen a huge increase in the number of international buyers registering on the Australian Food Catalogue. Demand for Australian products has not stopped,” he said.

The only platform of its kind to be endorsed by Austrade and various state agencies, the Australian Food Catalogue allows suppliers to showcase their range to hundreds of registered buyers that are specifically looking to source Australian products.

“We are conscious that businesses need to keep their head above water,” he said. “How do they do that. They need to sell product, and find new customers. That doesn’t stop just because travel does.

“Industry needed quick solutions that were able to deliver tangible outcomes. FIAL was able to quickly adapt its initiatives and we are excited to continue to explore the digital opportunity.”

With announcements beginning to be made regarding confirmed tradeshow dates in 2021, many businesses may be returning their attention to this method of securing sales.
FIAL makes the tradeshow experience a low-risk exercise for Australian businesses.

“Businesses that exhibit with us can focus on maximising the opportunity as FIAL takes care of everything – from the stand build, right through to stock freight.”

Exhibiting with FIAL is cost-effective, and with 80 per cent of industry being SMEs, this is critical, according to Arenas.

“These businesses usually don’t get the chance to attend international exhibitions due to cost constraints. We help bridge the gap so they can tap into these export opportunities,” said Arenas.

Arenas emphasises that to stand the best chance of succeeding in a competitive global marketplace, businesses must be export-ready. They must understand the market they are looking to enter and they must have a clear strategy.

To ensure attending businesses have the greatest chance of success, FIAL undertakes a thorough review of the business to identify abilities and readiness.

FIAL also runs numerous workshops to prepare businesses for export, and gain invaluable market-specific insights.

International buyers are not open to all new suppliers. According to Arenas, they are seeking businesses that can show they are reliable suppliers of consistently high-quality products, take a strategic and long-term view to their markets, are prepared to support buyers with promotional activity, and don’t have minimum quantities for initial orders, to enable new buyers to test the product before committing to larger volumes.
Buyers of food and beverages are looking for products that have both a strong marketable story behind their product, as well as unique attributes that makes their product novel compared to others.
Which categories receive the most interest depends on the wants and needs of the market within a specific country, as well as the target consumer/client, the marketplace or frame of reference, and the brand’s unique benefit, said Arenas.

As travel picks up, FIAL will also return to running its out-bound and in-bound trade missions.

An out-bound mission is where FIAL facilitates a comprehensive program for a group of Australian companies to build capability and knowledge in order to make the most of entering new potential markets overseas. It organises events that culminate in one-to-one business matching events, connections and introductions to key government contacts, insights and retail tours, forums and workshops in order to build a company’s in-market capabilities.

“We are looking to do an outbound for the UK, ASEAN and other markets for the next year,” said Arenas.

Then there are in-bound missions whereby overseas buyers come to Australia to meet potential export partners. Last year FIAL brought in seven international buyers to the Fine Food Australia event.

“We took those buyers to Victoria, New South Wales, Launceston and Brisbane. We did business-matching events in all those places,” said Arenas. “Again, it was to create and establish connections. We didn’t charge.

“We co-ordinated appointments with 180 companies. It was very successful. Some ended up purchasing stock. When these sorts of things happen, companies don’t have to go anywhere. They can stay in their home state and attend the event. Again, this is important with a huge proportion of the sector being comprised of SMEs.”

Arenas said his own gauge of how well FIAL is doing is still results-driven.

“A good month for me is based on programs and activities in collaboration with industry. How many companies have we managed to get across the line to secure – for example – an international order?” he said. “It doesn’t matter where around the globe, it’s all about how we drive the industry and provide opportunities and build capabilities for the overall sector. We want to talk to anyone who is interested in food and agribusiness and how we can facilitate some of these opportunities.

“At the end of the day, it is about creating jobs. It is also about selling more Australian products into the global marketplace.”

Is Australia on track to halve food waste by 2030?

Each year, over five million tonnes of food in Australia ends up in landfill, enough to fill 9,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

In 2017, the Australian Government committed to halve this level of food waste by the year 2030. Today, a key destination in that journey has been reached.

As an independent organisation supporting the implementation of this national commitment, Food Innovation Australia Limited (FIAL) has now commenced its $400k National Food Waste Strategy Feasibility Study.

Bringing together an international consortium of individuals and organisations with globally recognised expertise, FIAL’s Feasibility Study will test whether this commitment to halve Australia’s food waste by 2030 is indeed possible and what actions will increase the likelihood of achieving this target.

Australia’s largest dedicated sustainability consultancy, Edge Environment, has been appointed by FIAL as the lead consultancy alongside WRAP, 3Keel and Lifecycles.

“FIAL has a demonstrated track record in building collaborations across sectors, supply chains and industry groups to tackle food waste. Edge Environment is thrilled to be a part of the consortium that will see the full suite of required skills, and market-specific expertise to address these challenging feasibility questions,” said Max Van Bien, head of strategy at Edge Environment.

The Feasibility Study will fill data gaps; increase understanding around the environmental impacts of food waste in production, consumption and waste management; identify food waste ‘hotspots’ across the value chain and the solutions for their reduction; develop a number of scenarios under which the target could be achieved and the costed delivery trajectories of these; and make recommendations on which delivery trajectories and initiatives will most likely see the target achieved.

“Commencing the National Food Waste Strategy Feasibility Study is a positive step towards Australia’s goal of halving the amount of food either lost or wasted across the food value chain by 2030 – this is undoubtedly an ambitious goal and how to achieve this needs to be adequately understood,” said Dr Mirjana Prica, FIAL managing director.

The Feasibility Study was identified in FIAL’s Roadmp for Reducing Australia’s Food Waste by Half by 2030 released earlier this year, as a crucial first step in reducing Australia’s food waste.

Over the past two years, FIAL has been working closely with multiple stakeholders to identify the steps required to make the food waste reduction target a reality.

These stakeholders include food rescue and relief organisations, agri-food industry peak bodies, the Fight Food Waste CRC, the National Food Waste Strategy Steering Committee, the States and Territory Government Reference Group, and various national and international food waste experts.

Food and beverage businesses to benefit from e-commerce solution

With travel restrictions and the cancellation of tradeshow after tradeshow preventing food and beverage businesses from meeting buyers to secure international trade deals, Food Innovation Australia Limited (FIAL) has stepped up to address this urgent need for market connectivity.

Leveraging their Australian Food Catalogue, FIAL has refreshed the features with numerous advancements, pioneering new territory within the food and agriculture industry. These capabilities will facilitate Australian suppliers to connect with international buyers, securing the trade deals essential to their bottom lines.

This free digital platform facilitates collective sourcing by connecting qualified international buyers with Australian export-ready food & beverage suppliers.

The only one of its kind in Australia, the Food Catalogue is endorsed by Austrade and many state agencies across the country.

“Increased digital connectivity has allowed more of us to work from home. The sector wants online solutions that deliver tangible outcomes in accelerating commercially driven collaboration. FIAL continues to utilise opportunities to transform current models to achieve strategic industry growth,” said general manager commercial, Rod Arenas.

Thanks to exciting new features such as product videos, an instant chat function, and the ability for suppliers to submit applications to sourcing requests, it is now even easier for businesses to have a targeted approach to global growth.

“We have seen a sharp increase in buyers registering for the platform since travel restrictions came into effect. Australian products are still in demand and the Australian Food Catalogue is the digital bridge to accessing these opportunities, providing the sector with the resources to remain resilient and competitive,” said Arenas.

In addition to the redeveloped Australian Food Catalogue, FIAL is also ensuring Australian businesses can still connect with markets by hosting a series of virtual ‘Meet-the-Buyer’ events. Exporters can attend a one-to-one video conference with qualified buyers from various international markets. The recent pilot event received an overwhelming response from industry, with an oversubscription of companies reflecting the high demand for initiatives of this kind

Game-changing benefits on offer for Food & Beverage Award winners

Access to markets can be a windfall for any fledgling company and can accelerate their growth. What better way to get ahead, of the competitive crowd than accelerating your market entry into emerging new markets and retail opportunities. That’s what is on offer with the Food & Beverage Industry Awards, thanks to Food Innovation Australia Limited (FIAL) coming on board.

There is a range of great prizes for the winners of the awards:

  • Major prize* – An exhibitor space on the FIAL Australia’s nation brand stand at Food Hotel Asia Singapore 2021 event. The winning company must be export-ready and have the capabilities to supply the ASEAN market.
  • Winners of individual categories – Facilitation of a virtual ‘meet the buyer ‘country specific events. This is a valuable opportunity to attend a one-on-one videoconference with participating international buyers.
  • Creating connections with winners on export opportunities. These can include international exhibitions, inbound & outbound missions.

“FIAL is proud to collaborate with Food & Beverage Industry Awards,” said Rod Arenas, FIAL General Manager Commercial. “The Awards acknowledge and celebrate success within the food and beverage manufacturing industry, providing a platform for industry to showcase innovation and leadership.”

“FIAL is excited to facilitate business opportunities for the winners of individual category awards and to play a part in helping to grow, the share of Australian food in the global marketplace.”

* The major prize will be awarded in the first instance to the winner of the Best of the Best category, of which all finalists are automatically nominated. If the Best of the Best winner does not meet the requirements of the prize, FIAL will determine the winner based on a review of the nominations and in consideration of the prize requirements. Company must be export ready per FIAL guidelines and have the capability to supply the ASEAN market. Only the exhibition space is provided free of charge, all other costs reside with the winner.

To nominate your company or product, click here.

Mapping ahead for Australia’s food waste future

Food waste is an issue. It’s a massive issue. It’s something that everybody – from consumers and manufacturers through to primary producers – know about, and want to do something about, but never quite get around to fixing. Everybody can take their share of blame. People cook more than they should, picky eaters leave a lot on their plates, primary producers can cause a glut by overproducing certain crops, while retailers are too fussy about the size and shape of perfectly edible fruit and vegetables.

With that in mind, FIAL was engaged by the Australian federal government to identify the way forward. The resulting “Roadmap For Reducing Australia’s Food Waste by Half by 2030” has now been released. Before being appointed by FIAL, Barthel spent more than 10 years in the UK trying to help reduce that country’s food waste issues. And it has been successful.

“Just one example in the UK, with regard to the commitment there, has been with the whole grocery chain,” said Barthel. “It’s saved consumers and businesses $12bn over the first 10 years of activity. It has reduced greenhouse gas emissions incredibly efficiently. There was a 28 per cent reduction in food waste over that 10 years with 11 million tonnes of CO2 emissions saved. That is a phenomenal thing to be able to say.”

There are a range of issues that need to be addressed, according to Barthel. The bad news is, Australia is behind the eight-ball compared to the UK and other European countries who, in some cases, have had plans in place for a decade. The good news is, that all of the problems that need addressing are solvable. What is obvious to Barthel and those who are trying to bring the roadmap to fruition is that there needs to be collaboration between all aspects of the industry. And this isn’t just a ‘she’ll be right’ and pat each other on the back kind of partnerships. It needs to be a lot more transparent and tangible. Such as? Take contracts for example, said Barthel.

“The way that some contracts are constructed can be an issue, because often there are quite high penalties for partial non delivery,” he said. “That sometimes drives oversupply without intentionally doing so because people are concerned around contract penalties and things like that. So, they produce more food so there is no shortfall but that means there is leftover supply.”

And that oversupply leads to one of the biggest issues surrounding food waste and something that a lot of retailers are starting to address, is around the stringent standards they put on food, particularly fruit and vegetables.

“I do wonder what the impact of this is [throwing out good food because of their shape],” he said. “In an ideal world, you would like to think that consumers are becoming acceptable to vegetables they might not usually see in the supermarket and they want that product irrespective of what size or shape it is. There is an opportunity to re-evaluate the cosmetic standards of produce between the primary producers and retailers.”

He gives a practical example of how a change can occur with regard to the humble potato. When he was in the UK, one of the projects he was involved with was to do with the potato value chain.

“We were working with one of the major retailers and we had a look at their quality statistics, which showed that they believed the optimum circumference of a potato was 45mm,” he said. “We said ‘Why 45mm?’ They said, ‘That’s the way it has always been’.

Again, we said ‘Why?’ It took them a while to find out where the specification had come from and it was written in some time like 1978. There was no agronomic reason behind that circumference. There was no consumer acceptability criteria there or anything.”
Barthel and his team decided to challenge the reasoning behind the standard.

“We thought, ‘What would happen if we reduced the circumference to 43mm?’ We thought consumers would not notice the change. But the farmer did. What the farmer saw was a five per cent increase in utilisation, which was close to $2,000 a hectare.”

Barthel believes it is those sorts of aspirations where savings can be generated and there are some win-wins, not just for primary producers, but for retailers, too.

“We’re asking retailers to question some of the rationale behind these broader quality standards they have,” he said. “They haven’t really seen with their own eyes, themselves, the impact the standards are having on primary producers.”

And that impact can sometimes lead to a double negative whammy at the paddock.
“We see about 31 per cent of food waste appearing in primary production in Australia, and that is about 2.27 million tonnes of food not harvested or ploughed back in,” he said. “And that is to do with economics as well as cosmetic quality standard. What seems to be happening is we have an over production in order for suppliers to hit the retailers perfect quality standard bell curve. And the overproduction itself then depresses the price and to a lot of farmers that means it is uneconomical to get that graded product out of the paddock.”

With the UK model, there were many shifts and changes throughout the past 10 years. That journey took him to a place where supermarkets and hospitality companies tended to have very transactional relationships; very short-term contracts with suppliers.

“In some cases, there were longer, or rolling contracts, for staples like milk and bread and things like that,” he said. “There was a lot of confusion as to what was required from suppliers, as well as at the end of the chain with the supermarkets and convenience stores. What really brought it to a head was that we really moved from a short-term journey – getting away from transactional relationships – to a more strategic food supply relationships, which also meant we had much longer contracting arrangements in place.”
Barthel said it is now not unusual to have 5- or 10-year contracts in place in the UK. He thinks it will lead to long-term, streamlined relationships that will reduce waste. Short-term transactional relationships with suppliers means there is no real incentive for retailers to work differently.

Then there is what Barthel calls the tyranny of distance. A key to food waste reduction is also the ability to extend the shelf life of products. However, that is compromised in Australia for a couple of reasons. A lot of the primary production is done in rural Australia, and being such a vast and sparsely populated continent means a couple of days in shelf life can be wasted in transit. And the transit itself is an issue, because as far as Barthel can see the country has virtually no cold storage chain. He was at a meeting when he brought up the term and got a surprising response.

“When I recently sat down with the Food Cold Chain Council it was very interesting,” he said. “I use the words ‘food cold chain’ in the meeting. The challenge I got back having used that term, with a few minor exceptions, was that there is no food cold chain in Australia. There is a supply chain that is intermittently humidity and temperature controlled. That shocked me. I hadn’t really appreciated how underperforming the cold chain was. Then I got my hands on a draft study the Food Cold Chain Council was putting together. And the study talks about a quarter of the fruit and vegetables going into the food cold chain being wasted, which is close to $3bn worth of food.”

Barthel said that to address some of these issues, there needs to be be what are called Sector Action Plans. This is where certain aspects of food waste are targeted for attention and actions put in place to improve the situation in a particular sector.

“The first section action plan in the roadmap is to work with food rescue and relief as a sector because what we saw from a baseline study was that less than 50,000 tonnes of food is being rescued a year,” he said. “This is at a point in time where 7.4bn tonnes of food is being wasted. We have to find a way to work with that sector so that we can increase the amount of food that is rescued and therefore not wasted. How do we mop up all that surplus food in the system and give it to the people who need it now?”

The second sector plan is to work with Refrigerants Australia and the Cold Chain Council, on how to improve the performance of Australia’s cold chain so more food can get to market before spoiling.

“How can we get the core temperature back before product is shipped? How can we maintain in-trailer temperature? We have to make sure the refrigeration equipment is being used effectively while the food is in transit,” said Barthel. “The other thing in the cold chain is the human factor. We have to stop people leaving doors open on the back dock of a distribution centre as they deliver a frozen or chilled food order. It might take them 20 minutes on a 40˚C day to unload – you’ve just lost you required -18˚C to maintain that food in the space of 20 minutes because you have left the door open.”

Then there is the voluntary factor. Voluntary commitments are just as important as legislation because it gives a sense of ownership and responsibility to all those involved.
“In other countries, voluntary commitments have worked incredibly well,” said Barthel. “In designing a voluntary commitment program for Australia, we looked at 24 other countries that already have a voluntary commitment program to tackle food waste. Some of the results have been astounding.”

According to Barthel, it is almost important to look at what methods are to be used to change peoples’ behaviour.

“That is what the Road Map is all about,” said Barthel “Behaviour change is hard. It takes a lot of time to get it right and to get moving. Typically, when people throw away food – it’s an unconscious behaviour. We don’t think about it. The first step you need to take is raise awareness of the issue. We are starting that, and businesses are now starting to realise how much food is being wasted.

He points to a recent survey of 5,300 households on attitudes on food waste in Australia by Fight Food Waste CRC. It asked those households what they thought was causing waste in the home and what could be done about it.

“We could see from the answers that there tends to be an understated amount of waste they are throwing out,” said Barthel. “What we could also see was that there was a substantial gap between stated behaviour and actual behaviour. What that means is people throw out more food than they think they do. The good news is that the study also showed the 76 per cent of Australian households are motivated to reduce food waste. And that is something that we can help both businesses and households can build on.”

FIAL comes on board for Food & Beverage Industry Awards

Food Innovation Australia Limited (FIAL) and Food & Beverage Industry News are excited to partner with each other for the upcoming food and beverage industry awards program, which will be held in September 2020.

Due to COVID-19, the awards will be a digital enterprise, but nonetheless will be a key event in the food and beverage calendar.

FIAL facilitates various industry lead solutions via initiatives in innovation, markets and food waste to sustain, support and grow the Australian food and agribusiness sector.

FIAL is the catalyst that encourages the food sector to collaborate to grow the share of Australian food in the global marketplace. It influences the industry by sharing knowledge, building capability and creating connections.

It is a not-for-profit organisation and is responsible for the Food and Agribusiness Industry Growth Centre Initiative created via the Australian Federal Government.

The Food and Agribusiness Growth Centre policy, fosters innovation and entrepreneurship utilising an industry-led approach designed to drive innovation, productivity and competitiveness by focusing on areas of competitive strength and strategic priority. It leads Australia’s food focus sector transition into smart, high value and innovative sector, said FIAL general manager, commercial, Rod Arenas.

“We facilitate part of Australian Government’s Deregulation Agenda to reduce regulatory burden for individuals, businesses and community organisations,” said Arenas. “These Regulation Reform Agendas will contribute to a lower cost, business friendly environment, freeing resources at the firm level to focus on growth, competitiveness, productivity and investment. The initiatives enable national action on key issues such as deregulation, skills, collaboration and commercialisation.”

FIAL is a natural fit for the awards, as it is at the cutting edge of the latest innovations in the food and beverage manufacturing and processing space.

“It’s great to have FIAL on board as they bring a lot of experience to the awards, especially in terms of judging and knowledge of the industry,” said Prime Creative Media’s general manager  of events, Simon Coburn, whose company runs the awards and published Food & Beverage Industry News. “We look forward to bringing the awards to the industry, albeit under trying circumstances. It’s great to have an organisation like FIAL onboard and we look forward to working with them to make the awards the best event for the industry.”

“FIAL’s involvement in the FBIN virtual Awards is to acknowledge and celebrate success within the food and beverage manufacturing industry,” said Arenas. “It also offers a national platform for industry to showcase innovation and advancement and in turn facilitate business opportunities, for the winners of the individual awards in helping to grow individuals organisations and in showcasing capabilities both domestically and internationally.”

As well as practical advice and help, FIAL also offers opportunities for food and agribusinesses to take part in workshops, training programs, as well as creating dialogues with other businesses and help make connections with domestic and overseas buyers. The goal is to strengthen small and medium businesses global connections to enable them to find new markets for their products or alternate suppliers of key product or services.

“We’re also ensuring Australian businesses can still connect with various markets by hosting a series of virtual events,” said Arenas. “We’re connecting buyers with innovative export ready Australian food and beverage suppliers. We have stepped up to address this urgent need for market connectivity – launching the Australian Food Catalogue (AFC) platform with numerous new advancements and on-line events. This upgraded, free digital platform empowers collective sourcing via connecting qualified international buyers with Australian export-ready food and beverage suppliers. The AFC is endorsed via the industry growth centres initiative, Austrade and supported by the Australian Government.

“Increased digital connectivity has allowed more of us to work from home. The sector wants online solutions that deliver tangible outcomes in accelerating commercially driven collaboration. FIAL continues to deliver opportunities to transform current models, in order to achieve strategic industry growth,” said Arenas.

Export-ready Australian food and beverage suppliers are encouraged to sign up to the Australian Food Catalogue today by visitinghttps://www.australianfoodcatalogue.com.au/onboarding. For upcoming virtual events hosted by FIAL, visit https://fial.com.au/eventscalendar.

 

 

Mapping ahead for Australia’s food waste future

Food waste is an issue. It’s a massive issue. It’s something that everybody – from consumers and manufacturers through to primary producers – know about, and want to do something about, but never quite get around to fixing. Everybody can take their share of blame. People cook more than they should, picky eaters leave a lot on their plates, primary producers can cause a glut by overproducing certain crops, while retailers are too fussy about the size and shape of perfectly edible fruit and vegetables.

With that in mind, FIAL was engaged by the Australian federal government to identify the way forward. The resulting “Roadmap For Reducing Australia’s Food Waste by Half by 2030” has now been released. Before being appointed by FIAL, Barthel spent more than 10 years in the UK trying to help reduce that country’s food waste issues. And it has been successful.

“Just one example in the UK, with regard to the commitment there, has been with the whole grocery chain,” said Barthel. “It’s saved consumers and businesses $12bn over the first 10 years of activity. It has reduced greenhouse gas emissions incredibly efficiently. There was a 28 per cent reduction in food waste over that 10 years with 11 million tonnes of CO2 emissions saved. That is a phenomenal thing to be able to say.”

There are a range of issues that need to be addressed, according to Barthel. The bad news is, Australia is behind the eight-ball compared to the UK and other European countries who, in some cases, have had plans in place for a decade. The good news is, that all of the problems that need addressing are solvable. What is obvious to Barthel and those who are trying to bring the roadmap to fruition is that there needs to be collaboration between all aspects of the industry. And this isn’t just a ‘she’ll be right’ and pat each other on the back kind of partnerships. It needs to be a lot more transparent and tangible. Such as? Take contracts for example, said Barthel.

“The way that some contracts are constructed can be an issue, because often there are quite high penalties for partial non delivery,” he said. “That sometimes drives oversupply without intentionally doing so because people are concerned around contract penalties and things like that. So, they produce more food so there is no shortfall but that means there is leftover supply.”

And that oversupply leads to one of the biggest issues surrounding food waste and something that a lot of retailers are starting to address, is around the stringent standards they put on food, particularly fruit and vegetables.

“I do wonder what the impact of this is [throwing out good food because of their shape],” he said. “In an ideal world, you would like to think that consumers are becoming acceptable to vegetables they might not usually see in the supermarket and they want that product irrespective of what size or shape it is. There is an opportunity to re-evaluate the cosmetic standards of produce between the primary producers and retailers.”

He gives a practical example of how a change can occur with regard to the humble potato. When he was in the UK, one of the projects he was involved with was to do with the potato value chain.

“We were working with one of the major retailers and we had a look at their quality statistics, which showed that they believed the optimum circumference of a potato was 45mm,” he said. “We said ‘Why 45mm?’ They said, ‘That’s the way it has always been’. Again, we said ‘Why?’ It took them a while to find out where the specification had come from and it was written in some time like 1978. There was no agronomic reason behind that circumference. There was no consumer acceptability criteria there or anything.”
Barthel and his team decided to challenge the reasoning behind the standard.

“We thought, ‘What would happen if we reduced the circumference to 43mm?’ We thought consumers would not notice the change. But the farmer did. What the farmer saw was a five per cent increase in utilisation, which was close to $2,000 a hectare.”

Barthel believes it is those sorts of aspirations where savings can be generated and there are some win-wins, not just for primary producers, but for retailers, too.

“We’re asking retailers to question some of the rationale behind these broader quality standards they have,” he said. “They haven’t really seen with their own eyes, themselves, the impact the standards are having on primary producers.”

And that impact can sometimes lead to a double negative whammy at the paddock.
“We see about 31 per cent of food waste appearing in primary production in Australia, and that is about 2.27 million tonnes of food not harvested or ploughed back in,” he said. “And that is to do with economics as well as cosmetic quality standard. What seems to be happening is we have an over production in order for suppliers to hit the retailers perfect quality standard bell curve. And the overproduction itself then depresses the price and to a lot of farmers that means it is uneconomical to get that graded product out of the paddock.”

With the UK model, there were many shifts and changes throughout the past 10 years. That journey took him to a place where supermarkets and hospitality companies tended to have very transactional relationships; very short-term contracts with suppliers.

“In some cases, there were longer, or rolling contracts, for staples like milk and bread and things like that,” he said. “There was a lot of confusion as to what was required from suppliers, as well as at the end of the chain with the supermarkets and convenience stores. What really brought it to a head was that we really moved from a short-term journey – getting away from transactional relationships – to a more strategic food supply relationships, which also meant we had much longer contracting arrangements in place.”

Barthel said it is now not unusual to have 5- or 10-year contracts in place in the UK. He thinks it will lead to long-term, streamlined relationships that will reduce waste. Short-term transactional relationships with suppliers means there is no real incentive for retailers to work differently.

Then there is what Barthel calls the tyranny of distance. A key to food waste reduction is also the ability to extend the shelf life of products. However, that is compromised in Australia for a couple of reasons. A lot of the primary production is done in rural Australia, and being such a vast and sparsely populated continent means a couple of days in shelf life can be wasted in transit. And the transit itself is an issue, because as far as Barthel can see the country has virtually no cold storage chain. He was at a meeting when he brought up the term and got a surprising response.

“When I recently sat down with the Food Cold Chain Council it was very interesting,” he said. “I use the words ‘food cold chain’ in the meeting. The challenge I got back having used that term, with a few minor exceptions, was that there is no food cold chain in Australia. There is a supply chain that is intermittently humidity and temperature controlled. That shocked me. I hadn’t really appreciated how underperforming the cold chain was. Then I got my hands on a draft study the Food Cold Chain Council was putting together. And the study talks about a quarter of the fruit and vegetables going into the food cold chain being wasted, which is close to $3bn worth of food.”

Barthel said that to address some of these issues, there needs to be be what are called Sector Action Plans. This is where certain aspects of food waste are targeted for attention and actions put in place to improve the situation in a particular sector.

“The first section action plan in the roadmap is to work with food rescue and relief as a sector because what we saw from a baseline study was that less than 50,000 tonnes of food is being rescued a year,” he said. “This is at a point in time where 7.4bn tonnes of food is being wasted. We have to find a way to work with that sector so that we can increase the amount of food that is rescued and therefore not wasted. How do we mop up all that surplus food in the system and give it to the people who need it now?”

The second sector plan is to work with Refrigerants Australia and the Cold Chain Council, on how to improve the performance of Australia’s cold chain so more food can get to market before spoiling.

“How can we get the core temperature back before product is shipped? How can we maintain in-trailer temperature? We have to make sure the refrigeration equipment is being used effectively while the food is in transit,” said Barthel. “The other thing in the cold chain is the human factor. We have to stop people leaving doors open on the back dock of a distribution centre as they deliver a frozen or chilled food order. It might take them 20 minutes on a 40˚C day to unload – you’ve just lost you required -18˚C to maintain that food in the space of 20 minutes because you have left the door open.”

Then there is the voluntary factor. Voluntary commitments are just as important as legislation because it gives a sense of ownership and responsibility to all those involved.
“In other countries, voluntary commitments have worked incredibly well,” said Barthel. “In designing a voluntary commitment program for Australia, we looked at 24 other countries that already have a voluntary commitment program to tackle food waste. Some of the results have been astounding.”

According to Barthel, it is almost important to look at what methods are to be used to change peoples’ behaviour.

“That is what the Road Map is all about,” said Barthel “Behaviour change is hard. It takes a lot of time to get it right and to get moving. Typically, when people throw away food – it’s an unconscious behaviour. We don’t think about it. The first step you need to take is raise awareness of the issue. We are starting that, and businesses are now starting to realise how much food is being wasted.

He points to a recent survey of 5,300 households on attitudes on food waste in Australia by Fight Food Waste CRC. It asked those households what they thought was causing waste in the home and what could be done about it.

“We could see from the answers that there tends to be an understated amount of waste they are throwing out,” said Barthel. “What we could also see was that there was a substantial gap between stated behaviour and actual behaviour. What that means is people throw out more food than they think they do. The good news is that the study also showed the 76 per cent of Australian households are motivated to reduce food waste. And that is something that we can help both businesses and households can build on.”

The roadmap to halve food waste by 2030

Each year, over seven million tonnes of food are wasted in Australia, costing the economy an estimated $20 billion. At the same time, more than one in five have experienced some form of food insecurity.

In 2017, the Australian Government released the National Food Waste Waste Strategy, which included a national target to halve Australia’s food waste by 2030. This commitment received the support of all of Australia’s environment ministers. Food Innovation Australia Limited (FIAL) was engaged as the independent organisation to support the implementation of the National Food Waste Strategy.

Today we are releasing the Roadmap for Reducing Australia’s Food Waste by Half by 2030, which marks a key milestone in the implementation of the National Food Waste Strategy. The Roadmap provides a clear path forward for achieving the 50% reduction in food waste, acknowledging the current challenges and efforts.

The Roadmap sets out the short, medium to long-term actions needed to support reductions in food waste, including a Voluntary Commitment Program. This Target, Measure, Act approach has been successful all over the world in helping agri-food businesses to better understand and reduce their food waste. FIAL will now be focusing on finalising the Voluntary Commitment Program to engage business in food waste reduction activities.

Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management, Trevor Evans MP, was among those that welcomed the release of the Roadmap, setting the direction for all levels of government, industry and other key stakeholders to reduce Australia’s food waste.

“The Roadmap is a positive step forward as we work to achieve our national goal of halving the amount of food going to landfill by 2030 – this is undoubtedly an ambitious goal and to achieve it, we need everyone to play their part,” said Carolyn Cameron, general manager food sustainability.

“The food rescue sector plays an important role in ensuring food that’s perfectly edible doesn’t go to landfill, and instead is diverted to Australians experiencing food shortages. So I am very pleased to see the four major food rescue and relief organisations working collaboratively together to achieve these objectives”.

Over the past two years, FIAL has been working closely with multiple stakeholders to identify the steps required to make the food waste reduction target a reality.

These stakeholders include food rescue and relief organisations, agri-food industry peak bodies, the Fight Food Waste CRC, the National Food Waste Strategy Steering Committee, the States and Territory Government Reference Group, and various national and international food waste experts

FIAL announces $500,000 fund to support food and agribusiness innovation

From low-sugar beverages to energy-efficient technologies and snacks from sustainable food sources, Food Innovation Australia Limited (FIAL) has supported a rich and diverse range of innovation projects in Australian food and agribusinesses.

This grassroots involvement has given FIAL a front-row seat to knowing that innovation is central to the sector’s continued growth. Particularly in light of the current challenges affecting Australia – drought, flood, fire, and viral epidemics.

FIAL has announced its Black Summer Innovation Fund – providing $500,000 to support innovation in Australian food and agribusinesses impacted by recent events like the bush fires and summer storms.

“Backing Australian food and agribusinesses from the bottom-up during times of adversity is crucial,” said FIAL managing director, Dr. Mirjana Prica.

FIAL’s Black Summer Innovation Fund will provide businesses with up to $25,000 to support the development of new products and services. This fund is unique in that businesses are not required to match the value of grant awarded. It aims to encourage food and agribusinesses to think differently about their challenges, using innovation to supercharge their business.

Businesses can partner with technical experts and researchers across the sector to identify commercially relevant innovation opportunities. These could be the development of novel food processing, packaging and agricultural technologies for their new future.

Australian food and agribusinesses owners who have been negatively affected by events of national natural catastrophe or global diseases outbreaks in 2019 or 2020 are encouraged to apply today by visiting here.

FIAL celebrates Australian food innovation with book launch

As the wise Nelson Mandela once said, “Remember to celebrate milestones as you prepare for the road ahead.”

That’s precisely what Food Innovation Australia Limited (FIAL) has done for the past four years with its book Celebrating Australian Food and Agribusiness Innovations. The FIAL team has searched far and wide to find some of the best innovations in the country — from small businesses to multinationals, the new 2019 book edition showcases 50 innovations from across the whole value chain.

The exciting innovations featured in the book are aligned to the five global food and agribusiness megatrends identified by CSIRO. These are; a less predictable planet, health on the mind, choosy customers, one world, and smarter food chains.From sugarcane packaging to bone broth crisps, FIAL is confident that these stories will encourage Australian businesses to continue innovating and find their niche.

Chef Adam Moore, who features in the book, said, “As a chef, I am excited to be a part of such an inspiring book which shares Australia’s innovation successes. These stories are a great insight into all the work that goes into bringing together the products that grace restaurant menus, supermarket shelves, and consumers’ tables.“

FIAL managing director, Mirjana Prica, is delighted to launch the 4th edition at Global Table in Melbourne. “In this years’ edition, it’s wonderful to see that technology underpins many of the innovations, a true sign that our industry is evolving. I hope that companies will use this book as inspiration to create something new for the world to eat.”

Sarah Leung, founder and chief dietitian at Alg Seaweed shared her excitement for the book, “Alg Seaweed is so excited to be recognised and published in FIAL’s Innovation Book alongside so many amazing Australian innovations. We are very proud.”