The Food Agility CRC aims to empower Australia's food industry to grow its comparative advantage through digital transformation.
The Food Agility CRC brings together 54 participants from food, technology and research sectors guided by agile methods to achieve our vision. The CRC will integrate the agile culture and processes of the digital economy through a whole-of-value-chain lens for fresh and processed food. We will develop and use digital technologies for sharing data to build brand, markets, jobs and exports across the food value chain so that:
- producers can capture value by responding to rapidly changing consumer preferences
- exceptional quality and food safety records can drive our brand
- environmentally and socially sustainable practices are driven by data
- reduced risks incentivise investment
- a digitally capable workforce drives productivity and higher margins
- trans-disciplinary research solves business problems and
- industry can access social media and consumer preference market insights.
Digital technology is accepted as a key enabler across the food value chain. Despite the clear global trends, the Australian Farm Institute found in a 2016 report that Australia is far behind the US in using digital information systems and software platforms due to capital and data constraints.
World population will grow to 9.6 billion by 2050 driving food demand. As incomes rise in emerging economies, so too does kilojoule intake and, more importantly, a switch to protein. The world is on the cusp of a huge leap in demand for higher-value food products.
Australia has a comparative advantage in agriculture with a reputation for quality and safety, but consumer preferences are rapidly shifting and we face competition. In a world where everything is digitally connected, data is a critical asset. Food is no different – yet agriculture has the lowest digital adoption of all industries.
Through a collaborative process we have identified four strategic imperatives that will drive adoption of digital technology in this vital sector of the economy:
- Produce the right thing: Faster insights from real-time data will help Australian food producers, processors and retailers provide the right products, for the right markets at the right time.
- Increase access to finance: Data can be leveraged to deliver access to finance through better management of risk.
- Leverage brand Australia: Leverage our reputation for high quality and safe food while reducing unnecessary costs of compliance and duplication.
- Build future workforce: Digital technologies can support the workforce to be more productive, overcoming skill shortages.
Research programmes matched to industry imperatives
Consultation across industry and researchers has focussed three research programmes to ensure delivery to those four industry-specified imperatives outlined above.
In the graphic below, the imperatives run across the horizontal axis, and the research programmes up the vertical axis.
New business models for impact
Food Agility will use contemporary agile and user-centric design principles, combined with deep engagement with the food sector, to optimise adoption of digital services.
Our agile science methodology includes:
- strong engagement by growers in problem definition and project design, so that projects address real business needs.
- strong focus on user-led app design and adoption.
- ongoing deployment of research outcomes into apps used by growers, and tracking metrics to provide real-time feedback to researchers, for rapid adaptation of the interface and project design if needed.
- leveraging technology partners' data and technology to develop apps, accelerate research outcomes and provide rapid pathways to commercialisation and adoption.