By Brad Collis
Australia’s grains industry has begun the most far reaching
assessment of its existing structures, and
alternative production and marketing scenarios, ever
attempted in its 150-year history.
The release, during Grains Week, of the Australian
Grains Industry Strategy 2005-2025, marks the
starting point for an intensive period of debate and
decision-making that has the potential to reshape and
redirect major aspects of grain production, marketing
The Strategy is the first response to studies
that show the export demand for existing uses of
Australian grains will not increase at the same rate
as demand from new uses over the next decade and
beyond. Also, new high-capacity competitors are
poised to enter the traditional commodity markets
– in particular India, the Ukraine and South America.
China is also expected to become either self-sufficient
or a net grain exporter.
By contrast, the demand for new grain-based
products, in particular processed and manufactured
products that use grains as a source of biochemicals
– for uses as disparate as fuels, pharmaceuticals,
biodegradable plastics, aquaculture feed, meat
substitutes, anti-oxidants and a range of new
functional foods – is expected to increase
Overall, the projected demand for new and existing
uses for Australian grain is up to five times current
Australian production – and existing production
systems only have the capacity to meet about two-
fifths of this growth.
The Strategy, commissioned by the Grains Council
of Australia, funded by the GRDC and undertaken
by Pocknee & Associates Consulting, places strong
emphasis on the need for structural and cultural
change across the industry. It sees greater cohesion
and communication along the value chain as essential
to growth in the changing global circumstances that
are facing grain.
Under the banner ‘towards a single vision’, it also
calls for shared views to be aired and discussed as the
industry faces up to its future, cautioning against any
agripolitics that stymies debate.
A special Australian Grains Week Industry Forum
continued the debate, and this is to be an ongoing
industry think-tank analysing proposed strategies
and setting up task forces to investigate specific
GCA president Keith Perrett and GRDC chairman
Terry Enright, say the forum is intended to bring
all stakeholders together: “It will require goodwill,
trust and a high level of commitment to capturing
emerging opportunities identified in the report,” they
said in a joint statement.
The key components to be covered are the supply
chain, the demand chain, market and environment
issues, and new structures to allow the industry to
better manage change.
Projected demand for australian grain