Ben Creagh

Company involved in oyster market wins Australian Exporter of the Year

SEAPA, a company that specialises in designing plastic products specifically for oyster growers, has been awarded the Australian Exporter of the Year award for 2018.

SEAPA won the award along with Aspen Medical in Canberra on November 27.

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Simon Birmingham, who announced the 2018 Australian Export Award winners at the ceremony, said Aspen Medical and SEAPA are two great Australian business success stories.

“This is an outstanding achievement by two Australian companies that started as small grassroots operations and are now global businesses exporting their high-quality products and services to the world.

READ: SafeFish gets $855,000 to help Australia’s seafood sector grow

“They exemplify the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation and I hope they can inspire thousands of other small businesses out there to take a punt and become exporters,” he said.

SEAPA is a South Australian business that is helping the oyster farming industry with its injection-moulded plastic baskets and farming systems.

SEAPA began exporting to North America in 2001, and its export markets have grown to include Europe and North Asia, where its technology is helping to grow better quality oysters at lower costs.

Birmingham said this year’s awards recognise the enormous contribution exporters make to Australia with the 88 finalists employing over 21,000 Australians generating more than $2 billion in export sales.

“This year’s finalists export a variety of high quality Australian goods and services from biometrics consulting to lace wedding gowns, aerospace components to essential oils, thermoplastic horse shoes and vaccines for HIV.

“Exports create more Australian jobs and strengthen our economy,” he said.

“Australian businesses that export hire 23 per cent more staff, pay 11 per cent higher wages and have labour productivity that is 13 per cent higher than non-exporting firms,” said Birmingham.

Aspen Medical, which also won the Health and Biotechnology Award, provides primary healthcare, emergency healthcare, training, consultancy, medical evacuations and clinics in 16 countries on three continents.

Over the past 12 months alone Aspen has doubled its number of employees.

Demand for fresh Australian vegetables continues to rise

The value and volume of fresh Australian vegetable exports have increased in 2017/18, following strong trading conditions in key export markets in Asia and the Middle East, and increased demand for Australian-grown vegetables.

The value of fresh Australian vegetable exports increased by three per cent to $262.4 million in 2017/18, Ausveg reports.

The industry is well placed to meet its goal of 40 per cent growth to $315 million in fresh vegetable exports by 2020, Ausveg explains.

The top five markets for fresh vegetable exports by volume in 2017/18 were the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia, which make up just over 60 per cent of Australia’s total fresh vegetable export volume.

READ: Fight against fruit fly strengthened with technology

The top five markets for fresh vegetable exports by value in 2017/18 were Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, Japan, Malaysia and Hong Kong, with the top three of these markets making up over 50 per cent of the industry’s total fresh vegetable export value.

Ausveg national manager for export development, Michael Coote, said the vegetable industry has seen solid growth in exports across a variety of fresh vegetable products in recent years, with the whole vegetable category averaging 10 per cent year-on-year growth over the past three years.

“Carrots are the number one traded fresh vegetable commodity by both volume and value, with steady year-on-year growth over a sustained period of time indicating that demand for Australian carrots remains strong,” said Coote.

“Over 85 per cent of Australia’s fresh vegetable export volume is comprised of carrots, potatoes and onions. However, we still see positive growth in some other categories, including asparagus, which despite only comprising two per cent of fresh vegetable exports by volume, make up 11 per cent of fresh vegetable export trade by value and are the second highest value fresh vegetable commodity at $28 million,” he said.

Through its work in developing the exporting capabilities of the Australian vegetable industry, Ausveg undertook a wide range of activities during 2018 to help the industry improve its exporting capabilities, including:

  • Five outbound trade missions, taking 42 grower-exporters to key export markets to increase the capability for emerging and existing grower-exporters through in-market trade activities and knowledge-sharing among growers;
  • Six export workshops, which provided 44 attendees with practical and tailored knowledge about the export process; and
  • Eight new market access submissions for different vegetables into Asian markets.

“The industry has increased its focus on boosting the value and volume of its vegetable exports, with work being undertaken by Ausveg, Hort Innovation and other groups in building the exporting skills of Australian growers and providing opportunities to build relationships with foreign buyers, as well as supporting the Taste Australia trade program,” said Coote.

“We are working with growers to ensure they have the skills and knowhow to improve their ability to export their produce and capitalise on increasing demand for fresh, Australian-grown produce.

“We are also working closely with the Australian government and international trading partners to open market access for more vegetable commodities so that our growers can increase their exports into key export markets across Asia and the Middle East,’ said Coote.

Pet owners are shifting the way they shop for their furry friends

Online food options for pets have increased as consumers have shifted how they shop for their furry companions, Nielsen indicates.

The global measurement and data analytics company explains that given the plethora of choice across the market, from outlets such as local pet stores, big box retailers, vet clinics and online retailers, as well as the pace of change across channels and formats, it’s critical for brands and marketers to keep a multichannel approach to sales.

Across Nielsen’s omnichannel universe, the US spent almost $33 billion on pet food and treats in the last year.

Compared with a year ago, this represents an increase of 5 per cent, or $1.5 billion in sales.

READ: Chinese investors buy The Real Pet Food Company

Although volume growth has been slow for the pet sector, pet food and treats are still driving much-needed growth to the overall fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) space, particularly in the online retail landscape.

Relative to the 5 per cent growth across online and offline pet consumables, e-commerce sales of pet consumables increased 53 per cent this year.

The online growth figures alone might set alarm bells ringing for brick-and-mortar pet retailers, but consumers aren’t flat-out abandoning physical stores in favour of e-commerce.

According to Nielsen’s Digital Shopping Fundamentals research, one-in-two pet owners indicate that they don’t ever plan to shop for or purchase pet items online.

Although vet clinics, pet superstores and neighborhood pet stores are seeing reduced sales overall, mainstream and neighborhood pet retailers continue to find ways to resonate with pet owners and post modest growth alongside the rapid growth of online sales.

This year, upwards of $16 billion in pet food flew through mainstream brick-and-mortar doors, up nearly 2 per cent from a year ago.

Consumption has slowed, with tonnage of pet food by the pound down 1 per cent in this same timeframe.

In many cases, this uptick in sales can be linked to the influx of premium pet food brands on mainstream-store shelves.

Much like people food, consumers no longer have to go far to find a premium assortment of pet products for their furry, scaly and feathered friends, Nielsen explains.

Vaughan Constructions to build $60 million Biodiversity Industrial Estate

Vaughan Constructions will build two new industrial facilities for joint venture partners Mirvac and Blackstone as it launches its new 25-hectare Biodiversity Industrial Estate in Epping.

Vaughan director, Mark Byrne, said the circa $60 million buildings – the first speculative industrial buildings for the Mirvac/Blackstone JV – include a 30,000 square metre facility, capable of being split into two tenancies, on a five-hectare site, and a 15,500 square metre facility on a three-hectare site.

“We are extremely pleased to be able to announce the Mirvac/Blackstone deals in launching a new estate to a northern Melbourne market which currently has an acute lack of quality industrial facilities especially so close to the Hume Freeway.

“Mirvac and Blackstone are confident about finding tenants as they embark on what is a relatively new way of doing things in an evolving industrial market driven by e-commerce and a booming state economy,” said Byrne.

READ: Vaughan Constructions crowned Master Builder of the Year

He said construction would commence on both buildings early in the new year.

The biodiversity estate has the potential to accommodate a further 103,000 square metres of warehousing in Stage 1, while Stage 2, comprising 50 hectares with the potential of up to 250,000 square metres of warehouse area, is currently in the planning phase giving the estate an end value of $375 million.

JLL head of industrial and logistics for Australia, Tony Iuliano, who brokered the deal, said it was likely there would be more speculative deals of this nature as demand for new, efficient, and well-located industrial buildings grew and supply continued to diminish around the country.

“This is one of Victoria’s best industrial markets that we have seen in years with significant rises in land prices, rental growth, and unprecedented tenant demand.

“We are also seeing $20 billion of unsatisfied capital both offshore and onshore looking to deploy into the Australian industrial and logistics sector,” said Iuliano.

The deal follows a similar speculative, circa $37 million build that Vaughan is currently undertaking for Frasers Property at Maker Place, Truganina in Melbourne’s west.

The deal includes two office and warehouse buildings totalling 30,885 square metres on a 4.98-hectare site.

Byrne said both the latest deal and the Truganina deal vindicated Vaughan Construction’s strategy of purchasing and developing industrial parcels with easy access to Melbourne’s freeway network.

Woolworths partners with WWF for a more sustainable future

With more and more Australian shoppers choosing to buy seafood, Woolworths and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Australia have partnered to improve sustainable sourcing in the sector.

The collaboration will see WWF-Australia assess all of Woolworths’ Own Brand seafood on shelves and at the seafood counter using WWF’s independently developed methodology, and implement standards of traceability to make it easier for customers to choose sustainably produced seafood.

Over the past year, seafood sales have grown by about 7 per cent at Woolworths.

Recent research shows that more than 80 per cent of Australian seafood consumers believe that seafood needs to be protected for future generations to enjoy.

READ: SafeFish gets $855,000 to help Australia’s seafood sector grow

Woolworths general manager for quality, sustainability and health, Alex Holt, said oceans and marine life stocks are under increasing pressure as global populations grow and as demand for seafood soars.

“The Woolworths-WWF-Australia partnership is built on the shared commitment to build more sustainable fishing and aquaculture industries.

“We know our customers are enjoying more seafood each year and they are becoming increasingly more interested in knowing where their seafood is sourced from,” said Holt.

“Raising awareness of sustainably sourced products is an ongoing priority for Woolworths, as is ensuring that all the seafood of offer at our seafood counter as well as own brand seafood products, comes from sustainable sources.

“WWF-Australia brings decades of experience helping businesses improve the sustainability of their operations, and we’re excited to partner with them,” said Holt.

WWF-Australia seafood lead, Jo-anne McCrea, said globally, WWF works with major buyers, such as Woolworths, to improve their supply chain management and leverage their purchasing power to promote more sustainable production of seafood.

“Working together with Woolworths will create real on the ground conservation outcomes for our precious marine environments.

“We will help Woolworths select seafood that minimises impacts on our oceans and marine life; work directly with fishing and aquaculture operations to help them improve sustainable practices where necessary; and make it easier for Woolworths customers to choose responsibly produced seafood,” said McCrea.

Factory upgrade safeguards long term gelatine production

Gelatine is a multitalented ingredient for countless applications. Food applications are perhaps the best known examples but they’re not the only ones with pharmaceuticals, emergency medicine and photographic films also utilising gelatine products.

To help safeguard future production of a large-scaled gelatine manufacturing plant, an innovative risk management approach was undertaken to identify and subsequently replace legacy equipment with minimal interruption to the production process. 

Safeguarding gelatine production

The existing legacy distributed control system (DCS) was over 15 years old and although it was still in operation, a malfunction or breakdown during the process presented a significant production risk.

An assessment of new technologies identified that the Rockwell Automation PlantPAx system was the most appropriate choice for this application.

READ: Rockwell Automation helps an iconic Australian biscuit manufacturer with plant upgrade

The PlantPAx process automation system connects process, discrete, power, information and safety control into one plant-wide infrastructure, leveraging EtherNet/IP as its backbone. As a result real time information is readily available throughout the enterprise.

Innovative project execution

In the first stage of this project, the Rockwell Automation Global Solutions team were engaged to conduct a Front End Engineering and Design (FEED) specification.

“We conducted a thorough site audit at the plant and documented the existing system and current processes,” explained Sean Doherty, Rockwell Automation.

To address concerns around risk mitigation, an additional level of testing was introduced for the system with detailed Factory Acceptance Testing (FAT).

Smart commissioning

When replacing a legacy DCS system, if the field wiring is replaced simultaneously a significant risk is introduced.

“In this instance to have someone disconnect 4000 wires and manually reconnect them, the odds are that some may not be connected correctly and you would then need to test every single field connection,” explained Doherty.

“To avoid this, we developed an IO adaptor card to allow us to remove the old DCS and module and replace it with our proprietary designed module so we could signal through our system without having to change the IO wiring. This reduced the changeover time significantly,” he said.

Straight to A-grade quality

This project highlights the importance of careful planning and risk mitigation. From the initial stage of documenting existing functionality to testing and commissioning, the new system was integrated seamlessly and three days ahead of schedule.

Within a turnaround time of approximately four days, it was a smooth transition and the factory continued with manufacturing A-grade quality gelatine.

Coles $7 wine named as best Australian wine under $20

A $7 wine made exclusively for Coles has taken out a top price for the second time in three years.

The wine sold exclusively at Liquorland, First Choice Liquor and Vintage Cellars has been named as the best under $20 from Australia at the Winestate Wine of the Year Awards in Adelaide.

A panel of expert judges made up of winemakers, wine scientists and Masters of Wine chose the Story Bay Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2017 from a field of 2,500 wines over 12 months of blind tastings.

Winestate publisher and head of the judging panel Peter Simic said the wine, from Western Australia’s famed Margaret River region, stood out for delivering on both quality and value.

READ: Wine Australia: China is Australia’s most valuable wine export market

“It was pretty close but this wine had the highest rating out of all the tastings at the lowest price, it really deserved the trophy,” he said.

“For the amazing value price of $7, plus high blind judging score, this should be everybody’s everyday drinking wine,” said Simic.

Coles acting chief executive for liquor and hotels, Cathi Scarce, said the accolade was testament to the hard work of winemaker Alana Langworthy from WA winery Nocturne Wines, who has made exclusive wines for Coles Liquor since 2012.

“To have this recognition from some of the industry’s top wine tasters is further evidence that we’re getting it right by working with the best winemakers in Australia to deliver amazing quality wines at a great price,” she said.

The Story Bay Semillon Sauvignon Blanc is described by the tasting panel as having vibrant tropical fruit aromas including passionfruit, with notes of lime and blossom, hints of herbal tea and fresh cut grass, and a zesty and refreshing acid backbone that provides structure and length.

Winemaker, Langworthy, said Margaret River is famous for style, but it’s not a region that people associate with value, so it’s an absolute delight to be recognised for a wine that everybody in Australia can enjoy.

“The strength of the region is that it is so diverse, which allows us to work with fruit from a range of microclimates which provide different flavours.

“The result is a multi-dimensional wine which has textural crunch and depth of flavour that can stand toe-to-toe with wines selling for three times the price,” she said.

“Making great value wine that is also recognised as being among the best in the country makes us really proud of the partnership with Coles, which has allowed us to evolve and grow our business,” said Langworthy.

AIP takes sustainable packaging design course to New Zealand

The Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP), in conjunction with Packaging New Zealand, will be taking their new “Introduction to Sustainable Packaging Design” half-day training course and Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) visit to Auckland on the February 13, 2019.

The course is designed to assist anyone who is responsible in their business to make packaging changes to meet ‘War on Waste’ questions, changes to retailer and consumer trends and behaviours; while not spending any more money at the end.

It will provide attendees a better understanding of the practical guidelines and criteria needed to design and develop sustainable packaging including the Sustainability Hierarchy of Reduce, Reuse then Recycle and the Circular Economy approach to packaging and the environment.

Discussions will also cover plastic, glass and metal packaging and their impact on the environment and whether the use of non-renewable resources, plant-based bioplastics, compostable and recycled materials and various tools can assist their business to understand the full life of packaging.

READ: AIP will run food waste and packaging seminars at FoodTech PackTech

This will involve the impact of ‘Food or Product Waste’.

Participants will be invited to bring with them a sample of their company’s packaging materials to use as a case study.

As part of the course, attendees will visit a Material Recovery Facility (MRF) to expose participants to the realities of a working MRF facilities, their equipment, limitation and material handling issues.

The participants will get an understanding of what is and is not separated out for possible recycling, and why. This is followed by understanding the next stage of the recycling process after the MRF, for example the current five material beneficiation processes.

Course objectives:

  1. To provide participants an understanding of the current environmental issues that are impacting the producers of packaging and the manufacturers and retailers of packaged product.
  2. To provide participants an understanding of sustainable packaging design and the practical design guidelines and approaches required in the packaging design process including End of Life (EoL) thinking.
  3. To provide participants with a better view of Best Practice Examples and Case Studies of award-winning Sustainable Packaging and Save Food Packaging innovations.

Who should attend?

If you are responsible for your business’s packaging design, performance or purchase specification, then you should attend. Packaging Designers, Technologists and Engineers, anyone responsible for Environmental Strategy Development, Marketing & Sales, Graphic Designers.


Ralph Moyle FAIP, CPP, education coordinator for AIP.

Moyle is an experienced food-packaging consultant with 40 years in the food processing industry and 20 year’s focused on packaging.

Through a unique range of senior management experiences in Packaging, Operations, Technical and Quality Assurance in large and medium FMCG businesses, Moyle has brought increased value to many organisations through the value of smarter packaging at less waste.

Moyle’s packaging knowledge has resulted in successful contemporary designs and material selections, improved shelf life, lower material costs, shorter supply chains and environmentally-friendly selections that have provided greater economic value.

Moyle is a past National President of the AIP, a Certified Packaging Professional (CPP) and a Fellow of the AIP.

Hungry Jacks and Menulog team up to bring burgers to Australians’ doors

Australian-owned burger brand, Hungry Jack’s, has entered into an exclusive partnership with online food delivery service, Menulog, to bring Hungry Jack’s meals to Australians’ doors.

The two companies have teamed up to offer Hungry Jack’s’ full range of burgers, meals, desserts and sides available for online ordering and delivery across the country.

The partnership will see Hungry Jacks available for delivery to more than 1,604 suburbs across Australia.

Hungry Jack’s CEO Adam Parkinson said the partnership with Menulog would significantly bolster the company’s offering for customers and take the convenience of ordering from a Hungry Jack’s restaurant to the next level.

READ: Foodbank and delivery app join to reduce Melbourne’s food waste

“We’ve been serving our famous flame grilled burgers to Australians for more than 45 years and, during this time, our business has continued to evolve to meet the needs of our valued customers.

“Our partnership with Menulog recognises customer demand for delivery and will allow Australians to order Hungry Jack’s from the comfort of their homes,” he said.

“We strive to work with the best suppliers and this extends to our delivery partners. With leading technology, compatible with our own advanced systems and more than 12 years’ experience, Menulog is the right choice in delivery partner for our brand. Our customers can expect the same high-quality experience they receive in our restaurants and drive-thrus.

“We aim to make delivery a significant part of our business,” said Parkinson.

Menulog commercial director Rory Murphy said the new partnership marks a step change in Menulog’s offering of national brands, as the business continues to expand its delivery service.

“We’re incredibly excited to officially announce our partnership with Hungry Jacks and to be able to offer the first-ever exclusive national deliveries from one of Australia’s most-loved burger brands.

“Having very recently launched the first restaurants, we have already had extremely positive feedback and strong uptake from customers,” he said.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming more than 90 Hungry Jack’s restaurants to Menulog in the coming months and providing leading delivery solutions via our recently-launched Menulog delivery service,” said Murphy.


Dominant continues long history of service and innovation with new centre

Brompton-based cleaning and sanitation products business, Dominant, is celebrating 60 years in November with a new distribution centre.

Founded by Leslie Short in September 1958, Dominant opened its doors in Croydon Park, Australia.

With a small factory manufacturing soaps, disinfectants and general cleaners for commercial use, Short soon gained a reputation in Adelaide for providing outstanding service and products with excellent performance.

With his “Knights of the Road” sales team, Short spent day and night promoting the Dominant name. Before too long, the Dominant brand could be found all over Adelaide in pubs, hotels, restaurants and in cleaning contractor vans.

In 1979 this success allowed for the purchase of land in Brompton and in 1980 Dominant officially opened the doors of its Coglin St, Brompton head office, factory and warehouse.

In 1984, after almost thirty years in the commercial sector, Dominant made the bold decision to expand into the retail market, launching a range of home care products and distributing via a network marketing business model.

Leslie Short


Aptly named Dominant Homecare Products, the direct selling model boomed in the 1990’s with thousands of small family businesses retailing and many more using the range all over Australia.

The wide range of home cleaning products are still sold today and available online nationally and in selected South Australian retailers.

During this same time, the Dominant commercial division expanded into Victoria and to Queensland. Establishing these two new interstate sales offices, the business continued to grow.

The customer base also started to shift from mainly hospitality and cleaning businesses to a focus in the food, aged and health care sectors.

The Dominant research and development division formulated dozens of industry specific products and provided unique dispensing solutions to meet ever-growing health and safety standards.

Dominant became known as the best in the business when it came to assisting these organisations with safety and compliance, providing cleaning solutions that performed every time.

In 2003, Short’s son, Christopher, saw a gap in the market – cleaning and sanitation products for coffee machines.

After developing one product and launching it under the brand, Cafetto, the research and development team was put to work developing a range of products to clean every type of espresso machine and various coffee equipment.

After establishing Cafetto in Australia, Christopher focussed on New Zealand and Asia, exhibiting at countless tradeshows and forming relationships with key people in the coffee industry.

Fifteen years later, Cafetto now distributes to more than 30 countries, with the head office in Adelaide and sales offices in Malaysia and The Netherlands.

Christopher the business started out with his father’s dream of servicing the Adelaide market with the best cleaning products.

“Sixty years on, in a much different time, the world is a much smaller place and global business for us is the way forward. My father’s ethos of providing the best products and outstanding service however remains the same.

“It’s what we instil in our team and why our customers continue our business relationships,” he said.

With recent domestic business growth and global distribution, many challenges have arisen.

“One of the major issues any business faces as it grows is outgrowing their existing facilities,” Christopher said.

“Over the past 10 years we’ve been able to make some modifications to our Coglin St site to accommodate the growth.

“We also tried outsourcing our warehousing which gave us more space for manufacturing but ultimately we know that to provide the best service to our customers, we need full control over every aspect of the process. That meant bringing our warehousing back in- house,” said Christopher.

Christopher Short


Dominant opened their new distribution centre on November 23. Just around the corner from the Brompton factory and head office, the new distribution centre is located on Wood Ave.

“The location of the new distribution centre is key to being able to operate efficiently. Being just a few hundred meters away from the factory and office means factory are swift and operational staff can go between the two sites with ease,” said Christopher.

Tickets for Awards of Excellence night, during AUSPACK, on sale

Sustainability will flow through every aspect of the reinstated gala awards ceremony for the Australian Packaging and Processing Machinery Association (APPMA) Awards of Excellence.

The APPMA Awards of Excellence is returning to be part of AUSPACK 2019.

It recognises industry innovation and outstanding performers in the packaging and processing sectors.

The awards, which are part of Packaging and Processing Week 2019, include five award categories: Best New Product, Customer Collaboration Award, Design Innovation Award, Export Success Award and Imported Equipment Award.

READ: Packaging and processing Awards of Excellence return in 2019

Keeping in theme with the week, the awards evening will use sustainable materials such as recycled copper used for the table centrepiece decorations, and low-energy LED lighting.

The menu will be designed in partnership with Yume, rescuing top-quality, brand-name surplus food that may have otherwise been discarded.

AUSPACK will be held from 26-29 March, in Melbourne. The Awards of Excellence will be held on March 27.

New technology to track grape development for better harvest

Measuring and tracking the development of grapes in the vineyard is now easier – with a new mobile phone app.

The WineOz Smart Grape Android app was developed by Charles Sturt University (CSU) researchers and is available for growers and vineyard managers to use this coming harvest.

It was created by the National Wine and Grape Industry Centre (NWGIC) and funded by Wine Australia.

Lead researcher and NWGIC director, Leigh Schmidtke, said the smartphone app allows growers to quickly measure and then chart the colour and size of the berries.

READ: Wine Australia looks at trends for smaller exporters

“A probe around the size of a single grape is inserted into the cluster to act as a reference point for size in the app.

“You then take a picture of the grape cluster. The algorithms in the computer program calibrate the distance from the camera to the berries. The software will also take the probe measurement in pixels then relate it to the size of the surrounding grapes,” said Schmidtke.

“As grapes mature they change colour, for instance, white varieties go from pea green to yellow gold as they develop. Each particular shade in that colour change relates to changes in the sensory style of wine.

“Being able to measure and chart colour change is very valuable and allows winemakers to predict when they should be harvesting the grapes to end up with the style of wine they want to produce.

“What’s more, the colour and berry size data can be used to monitor negative developments in the crop. For example, if you start to see a reduction in the size of the berries that you wouldn’t expect as they normally mature, you know that they are losing water and can take remedial action,” said Schmidtke.

Wine Australia general manager research, development and extension, Liz Waters, said the app has translated Australian-based research on sequential harvesting into a simple tool that growers can use in the coming vintage.

“The app will make it easier for grapegrowers and winemakers to use objective measures – proven for Australian conditions – to determine the optimum fruit picking ‘window’ to suit desired wine styles by tracking the evolution of fruit colour (white varieties) or volume (for red and white varieties),” said Waters.

“By measuring berry volume, the app will also allow grapegrowers to make improvements to irrigation scheduling to control vine water status, which will assist in avoiding berry water loss and shrivel, enhance fruit quality, and improve bunch consistency.”

The Android app is available through Google Play and is supported by other resources on the NWGIC website.

Report shows food sector accounts for almost 40 per cent of Australian manufacturing jobs

The Australian Food and Grocery Council’s (AFGC)10th annual industry snapshot, State of the Industry 2018, reinforces the importance of the $131 billion food and beverage, grocery and fresh produce sector to the future of Australian manufacturing.

The report, released on November 26, shows that despite being faced with challenging conditions through 2016 – 2017, the sector now accounts for nearly 40 per cent of Australian manufacturing jobs.

AFGC CEO Tanya Barden said this year’s State of the Industry highlights the importance of the food and grocery sector to Australia’s economy, and its resilience in the face of a significant loss of competitiveness that has impacted Australian manufacturing more broadly.

“There is no doubt Australia’s largest manufacturing sector is facing a tough environment where input costs are rising on everything from commodities, particularly caused by the drought, to labour to energy, and six years of retail price deflation continues to cut margins, placing the sector under increasing pressure.

READ: New capping machine improves productivity in small manufacturing spaces

“These factors have created relentless pressure back through the supply chain, with companies having made efficiency improvements in order to stay competitive. It has now however reached the stage where this pressure is placing strain on the sector,” she said.

“While the food and beverage, grocery and fresh produce sectors directly employ 324,450 people, there was a 1.4 per cent decline in employment in 2016-17. There was also a small decrease in industry turnover by 2 per cent to $131 billion.

“A 10.3 per cent decrease in net capital expenditure, off the back of a decade of declining investment, reflects a genuine concern that increases in input costs coupled with depressed pricing makes the case for investment difficult at this critical time,” said Barden.

“Continuing to stimulate investment in site modernisation is critical particularly in light of mounting input cost pressures.

“We are now in danger of drifting into a low investment trap, where uncertainty about return on investment flowing from retail price deflation and rising costs is seeing investment decisions deferred or dumped,” she said.

The AFGC recommends that targeted investment allowances be adopted to bring forward investments in Australia, to retain jobs and businesses here, particularly in regional areas where approximately 38.8 per cent of the sector’s jobs are located.

In contrast to the domestic market, the report highlights that the industry’s growth prospects increasingly lie in export channels.

“An increase of 7.7 per cent in exports to 36.1 billion in 2017-18 shows the ability to realise premium prices for value-added food and beverage products in growing export markets is a key source of future growth and contrasts with the low growth, deflationary domestic trading environment.

“For the Australian economy to grow, we need strong regional employment, a strong manufacturing base and export led growth.

“The food and grocery sector offers these three aspects but requires polices that address cost competitiveness and ensure fairness in retailer supplier trading,” said Barden.

Key facts from the State of the Industry 2018 report on the food, beverage and grocery sector, using ABS and other sources are:

  • Industry turnover $131.3bn, down -2 per cent in real terms; 2016-17 data
  • Direct employment 324,450 people, down -1.4 per cent; 2016-17 data
  • Net capital expenditure $2.9bn, down -10.3 per cent; 2016-17 data
  • Total international exports $36.1bn – up 7.7 per cent; 2017-18 data

Foodbank and delivery app join to reduce Melbourne’s food waste

Kloopr, a new food delivery app has partnered with Foodbank Victoria in an aim to reduce food waste and maintain a low carbon footprint.

Kloopr encourages venues to offer reduced menus and a set number of portions per dish available on the app, giving the chefs more control and a better indication of how much stock they will need to order.

The delivery fee is set at $3.50, which will be donated to Foodbank Victoria, a not-for-profit organisation providing food relief to those in need.

Foodbank Victoria CEO Dave McNamara said Kloopr’s commitment to giving back to the community made it an easy decision to be involved.

READ: Deliveroo hopes to grow numbers by launching a BYO rider system

“Foodbank’s role is to put food on the table of those who need it most, and the Kloopr initiative is going to help us to provide more food to vulnerable Victorians,” said McNamara.

Kloopr will take a 15 per cent commission rate and there are no exclusivity contracts or joining fees for venues.

The company announced that the app will also allow diners to be their own drivers, in order to lower its carbon footprint, saying that users can register to become a “kloopr” and start picking up deliveries at their convenience, for themselves or other customers.

Before its official launch, a date for which has not yet been announced, diners will soon be able to download the app to order food from several restaurant partners that are already on board, including Drumplings, Wings of Glory and China Bar, all in Melbourne’s CBD.

Kloopr noted that according to research from comparison site Australians spend $2.6 billion on food and drink delivery per year.

With this in mind, Kloopr plans to extend its reach interstate, eventually hitting the market in Singapore and Malaysia too.

Queensland research could lead to better quality avocados

Avocado aficionados will benefit from a Queensland research project that aims to strip bare the avocado to reveal detailed information about the popular fruit’s biology.

University of Queensland researcher Robert Henry said data from a $13.3 million Horticultural Tree Genomics project could lead to better quality avocados.

“Despite its global popularity and cult-like status in some countries, there is currently only a limited amount of information available on the avocado genome,” said Henry, who is also the director of the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation.

A team of University of Queensland and Queensland University of Technology scientists will work with Hort innovation and the Queensland government to apply the latest technologies to produce a detailed map of the avocado genome, and develop genomic prediction tools.

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“Over the five years of this project, we will be linking the high level genetic information to orchard performance data, to enable the industry to produce higher quality avocados more efficiently,” said Henry.

“Advances in genomic sciences have benefitted many agricultural industries, but they haven’t fully extended into horticulture in the same way they have impacted on field crops,” he said.

The Horticultural Tree Genomics project will provide the genetic knowledge required for advanced breeding programs and future intensification of five important Australian horticultural tree crops – avocado, mango, macadamia, citrus and almond.

These crops represent 80 per cent of the total value of horticultural tree crop production in Australia and account for more than half of horticultural tree crop revenue.

Henry said genomic studies in apples showed that elite seedlings could be bred and planted as commercial varieties in just 24 months using genomic prediction approaches – as opposed to seven years through conventional breeding methods.

“The project will deliver new tools for industry to improve genetic prediction for important traits such as yield, tree architecture, flowering times, canopy structure and size, and crop load,” he said.

The project will feed into the University of Queensland, Hort Innovation and the Queensland government’s Small Trees High Productivity project by providing more detailed genetic information to underpin the project.

Hort Innovation chief executive officer Matt Brand said Australia’s ability to be at the forefront of horticultural biotechnology was essential to ensure the industry remained profitable, productive and protected.

“While currently profitable, the horticultural tree industry faces numerous and significant challenges that stem from plant diseases, slow production and climatic changes,” he said.

“Plant production is, by definition, a slow and timely process. This project will breakdown the genetic code of our five leading tree crop varieties to assess ways to develop more resilient trees that can withstand the changes expected in the coming years.”

Researchers will tap into existing global genomic information on avocado in Central America and mango in India, and identify whether detailed genetic information on Pomelo, a popular citrus crop in China, is transferrable to Australian oranges and mandarins.

“The genetics of almonds is close to peach and cherry, which are popular crops in the northern hemisphere, so a lot is known about their genetics.

“We will work with our international collaborators and see whether this information can be used to help develop management and prediction tools for Australian almond growers.”

While traditional breeding programs have developed new cultivars for macadamia, the native Australian nut has unique genetics and evolved in isolation in Australia.

“With more detailed information on the macadamia’s genetics and performance data, we can grow the crops more quickly and develop niche products for the Chinese market,” said Henry.

Fibre King combats energy wastage to provide savings for customers

Fibre King has helped customers build and upgrade their production facilities by providing off the shelf and bespoke packaging solutions within the meat, dairy, beverage, food, FMCG, personal care, pharmaceutical and fresh produce industries.

Offering a comprehensive turnkey service, Fibre King prides itself in assisting customers with everything from upgrades and services to tailored repairs and off the shelf packaging machinery such as case packers, palletisers, case and tray handling and crate equipment.

Each Fibre King machine is backed by a full-service warranty, operator training and ongoing support.

Fibre King managing director James Windsor said the company had invested in research and development to improve on existing machines.

READ: SMC helps companies save and improve their green footprint

“New innovations can be integrated into our machines and our engineers are continuously looking for ways to drive productivity for our end users,” he said.

One of the latest trends which is becoming increasingly necessary is energy saving, said Windsor.

“In addition, the initial cost of energy saving components is becoming less of an issue when customers start weighing up the real savings that they can achieve.

“While energy saving is great for the environment and does play its part, for our customers the bottom line is – how much will I save now and in the long run. Essentially, it’s about profitability, return on investment and ultimately, long-term gain,” he said.

By managing and monitoring energy usage on a machine, the customer can realise real dollar savings.

“Relooking and refining your strategy when it comes to compressed air use and pneumatics in general can save you up to 80 per cent.

This can be easily done by simply monitoring and controlling the amount of air used and lost due to costly leakages,” said Windsor.

Customers tend to overlook the air wasted in a factory and it therefore needs to be monitored, he said.

Collaborating with SMC, which specialises in pneumatics, Fibre King drew on the company’s expertise and research and development to ensure improved pneumatic energy saving solutions which could be offered to Fibre King’s customers to further drive value.

For Windsor, this means each machine should be fitted with digital flow switches which measure the amount of air expelled.

“PFM flow switches from SMC are used on our machines to monitor air flow and energy changes.

“Changes will be flagged as readings change, and it will also show you the differences in air usage with pressure changes. This saving translates directly into cost savings for our customers,” he said.

Another SMC product which now comes standard in proposals and recommendations to customers is the ALDS (Automatic Leak Detection System).

“The ALDS can detect leaks immediately and anywhere on the system to help you save instantly,” he said.

The ALDS can be easily integrated into the machine software and no external supervision is required.

The partnership between Fibre King and SMC has helped to strengthen the brand’s offering to its customers, said Windsor.

“We want to offer our customers speed, precision, reliability and peace-of-mind with intelligent packaging machinery to ‘future proof’ your business and increase profits. Realising energy savings forms part of our ongoing commitment to our customers, the industry and the environment.”

Australian berry industry gets funding boost

Australia’s berry industry has received a $650,000 funding boost from the federal government.

The assistance package aims to restore consumer confidence following the recent spate of incidents of tampering with strawberries and other fruits.

Berries Australia Limited is a joint venture of the Australian Blueberry Growers’ Association, Raspberries and Blackberries Australia, and Strawberries Australia, representing more than 700 growers, ranging from major horticultural enterprises and multi-site agribusinesses to local cooperatives and independent farms.

In total, the growers’ annual output of 109,000 tonnes of berries represents a gross return of $1.05 billion farmgate value in the national economy.

READ: Queensland research station helps farmers produce better strawberries

Berries Australia chairman Peter McPherson said the recent impact on strawberry growers showed the economic vulnerability of Australian farmers to sabotage beyond their control.

“Australia has a well-earned reputation internationally for the quality of our fresh produce and the safety standards and care taken by our growers.

“Our farmers are proud of the freshness and quality of what they grow and want their produce to go on sale in the same condition that it left the farm” said McPherson.

“Consumer confidence at home and overseas is critical for Australia’s reputation as a source of safe fresh food and a lot is currently being invested in promoting both on-farm safeguards and the systems in place from farmgate to consumer.

“It is also important to remember that the strawberries incident was beyond the influence and control of growers and it’s essential that any program developed is national, integrated and based on the real needs of the horticulture sector, and doesn’t impose more costs on farmers already struggling in a tough environment,” he said.

Berries Australia members supply supermarket chains, non-aligned retailers, food service and restaurants, and Berries Australia has a strong focus on expanding export markets of Australian berries.

Berries are grown in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia enabling year-round production and supply to consumers.

Australian Beef to fuel 2020 Australian Olympic team

Australian Beef will be an official partner of the 2020 Australian Olympic Team, giving Australian red meat a platform on the national stage.

The deal is being delivered with sponsorship from Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA).

The partnership will run from the end of November 2018 through to the Olympic Games to be held in Tokyo, Japan, in 2020.

MLA managing director Richard Norton announced the new partnership at the MLA 2018 Annual General Meeting in Canberra, being held as part of Red Meat 2018.

READ: Slowing meat production signals good price news for beef and sheep

“It makes sense that Australian Beef, renowned for its superior quality and nutritional properties should fuel the elite Australian athletes that will compete in the ultimate physical and mental contest,” said Norton.

“The partnership will complement and build on all MLA’s marketing and communications initiatives in the Australian market and include cross promotional opportunities in Japan, our beef industry’s largest and second largest markets respectively.

“In Australia, marketing activity will extend from television and social media right through to point of purchase material,” he said.

“Sports dietitians and nutritionists – with a reach that extends not only to elite athletes but right through to grassroots participation sports – will be the focus of MLA’s nutrition communications and education program throughout the Olympics partnership.

“Our partnership with the Australian Olympic team will help us to take the message of Australian Beef as part of a healthy diet to communities and consumers all over the country in the nearly two years until the Olympic Games,” said Norton.

Australian Olympic Committee chief executive officer Matt Carroll has welcomed the announcement as a perfect fit.

“Our partnership with Meat and Livestock Australia provides a significant boost to our Olympic Team as it prepares for Tokyo 2020,” said Carroll.

“We are focussed on giving every athlete the opportunity to excel at these games and that is only possible through the generous support of our partners.

“This is a perfect fit in every way as we prepare to send our team to show their quality in the cauldron of Olympic competition,” said Carroll.

ALDI remains most-trusted brand in Australia

ALDI has been considered the most-trusted brand in the latest Roy Morgan Net Trust Score survey, following on its success in the previous, mid-year, survey.

Data collected in October shows that Aldi continues to be Australia’s most trusted brand, with Bunnings, Qantas and the ABC are also holding their position in the top-10.

But, in the past three months there has been a big shake-up in Australia’s top-10 most-trusted brands.

Between Roy Morgan’s July and October surveys there were big moves in the rankings.

READ: Survey shows ALDI is the most trusted brand in Australia

Car insurance group NRMA fell from 5th to 7th place, Bendigo Bank slid from 7th to 9th place, and Samsung, Myer, RACQ and IGA fell out of the top-10.

Kmart, ING, Toyota and Target all saw their Net Trust Scores improve enough to secure a place in the October top-10.

A brand’s Net Trust Score is generated by asking respondents, unprompted, to name brands they trust and brands they distrust.

Subtracting a brand’s distrust score from its trust score reveals its Net Trust Score.

Respondents for the Net Trust Score surveys are drawn from the 600,000-strong Roy Morgan consumer panel.

At a sector-wide levels, Net Trust Scores were lowest in banking, media and mining and petroleum, and highest in retail, consumer products and supermarkets.

Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine said trust is vital to the success of any business, but the key message of the Roy Morgan Net Trust Score survey is that growing distrust can be a disaster, leading to customer churn, loss of market share and in some cases a long slide into oblivion.

“Understanding what drives trust with customers – and just as importantly with potential customers – is essential to brands wishing to improve their Net Trust Score.

“Trust is not just a ‘marketing’ or ‘comms’ issue – it goes to the heart of corporate culture and governance for every company,” said Levine.

“Whether it’s Facebook, the big banks or our major utilities, directors and their management teams need to think about the social drivers of trust and distrust – ethics, believability, integrity and transparency.

“The Roy Morgan NTS Report is a major step in helping achieve that level of awareness at all levels,” she said.


Sydney factory, and home of Skittles, celebrates 60 years

In November, The Wrigley Company is celebrating the 60th birthday of its Asquith factory.

The factory, located in Sydney’s Upper North Shore area, produces confectionary such as Skittles, Extra, Eclipse and Juicy Fruit.

Opened in 1958, the Asquith factory has long been considered a leader within the Wrigley network.

In the past decade, Wrigley has invested more than $80 million into its Asquith facilities to ensure it remains a proud and productive Australian manufacturer.

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Projects have included building an energy efficient warehouse, installing a 540,000 litres rainwater harvesting system, upgrading production equipment and expanding production capacity.

In addition to being the home of some of the top confectionery brands in Australia, the Wrigley factory is proud to have been consistently awarded as one of Australia’s best places to work.

This year it ranked as the number-one manufacturer in the 2018 Great Place to Work Awards, alongside its Mars Australia sister companies.

As a large scale employer for the Upper North Shore and Central Coast, many Associates have worked at the Michigan Ave factory for decades, some even recruiting their family members.

Ross Hannaford, the facility’s technical manager, has worked at Wrigley for 36 years, and on his advice, his two sons have since joined him as associates.

Reflecting on his career, Hannaford shared why he’s stayed with Wrigley for so many years.

“For every associate, there’s real pride in what we do. We are asked to run the factory like it’s our own business, so there is lots of autonomy and responsibility – which makes for a caring environment with a lot of mutual trust and respect,” he said.

“The business invests in you and your development, allowing you to grow and lead. It’s one of the reasons why I encouraged both my sons to work here. One has been here for eight years, and the other for two years.

“My eldest is currently undergoing management training to start moving toward managing a team. I’m excited to see what’s in store for their careers,” said Hannaford.