Future Food Systems CRC targets booming health markets

The Future Food System CRC (Cooperative Research Centre) has progressed to the final selection interview in Round 20 of the Australian Government's CRC program.  

The bid consortium has 70 foundation partners around Australia including industry, government and peak research bodies. NFF president Fiona Simson will Chair the CRC. 

If funded, the CRC's research and capability programs will support participants in optimising the productivity of regional and peri-urban food systems, taking new products from prototype to market and implementing rapid, provenance-protected supply chains from farm to consumer. 

Target categories are trusted fresh and nutrient-dense foods; 'free from' foods such as those for allergy sufferers; functional foods and other highly specialised goods in the emerging field of precision nutrition. Food Innovation Australia has predicted  that the global market for goods in these categories will be worth trillions by 2025, with most new demand from Asia. 

Research themes include:

High-tech indoor farming

Scaling up protected cropping is a central aim of the CRC.  Research will develop next-generation solutions across automation, informatics and facility design, in partnership with major growers such as Perfection Fresh and technology companies such as Greenbio and eAgri, which are developing ultra-high-tech vertical solutions.

Developing regional food plans

The CRC will help drive the success of six regional and peri-urban food hubs in Peel (Western Australia)Liverpool City (Western Sydney)Darwin, Mildura,  Armidale and Coffs Harbour.  Agrifood clusters have proved highly successful in nations such as the Netherlands, Canada, USA  and Sweden. CRC food hubs will cluster growers and manufacturers around rapid-transport hubs via streamlined logistics systems.

The CRC will work with food-hub stakeholders to develop plans that create a knowledge base and shared targets for future industry growth. These plans will connect farmers, regional manufacturers and logistics and other service providers to create transparent supply chains for value-added products.

Planning in this way will support the development of regional specialisations and distinctive high-value brands. The consortium's food-hub partners aim to integrate food planning with regional tourism development.

Sustainable, high-tech agrifood precincts

Strategic statutory planning as well as civil engineering and design solutions are urgently needed to underpin and fast-track investment in Australia’s future food industry.

CRC research will assist its government partners in developing agrifood zonings and customised infrastructure for master-planned commercial agri-tech precincts that facilitate the operation of growing, processing and logistics firms.

NSW Government and Western Australian Government 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 design and circular economy solutions for water and energy as part of developing these precincts, and also support participants in locating within the precincts.

This activity will be linked with billion-dollar investment being made in food-hub regions under City Deal and regional development programs. At different scales, the CRC will support similar approaches in other food hubs.

Smart logistics and inland ports

Building scale in high-value markets for perishable goods demands investment in advanced intermodal logistics. Australia has the potential to develop highly efficient cross-border zones based on digital platforms that will 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. Partners iMove, Telstra, Rural Co and Escavox, a spin out from Woolworths, will play key roles in supporting more rapid and streamlined supply chains. 

Circular economy solutions

The CRC research team will support government and industry partners in integrating water efficiency and renewable energy at civil and facility scale to ensure increased environmental sustainability of supply chains from farm to consumer. 

For more information, visit the Future Food Systems CRC web portal