They want it all!

“If producers expect to thrive, we need to provide our customers with the choices they want. Consumer tastes and preferences ultimately drive everything we do...”

These strong messages to grain producers came from Ralph Selwood, CEO of Cargill Australia Limited, during this year’s Grains Week meeting in Sydney.

He said changes in customer buying patterns were transforming the entire grain and food industries.

“A new global food system is emerging, driven by customers who are relentless in their pursuit of better value,” he said. “They want food that is better for them and tastes great. And they want it cheaper.”

Mr Selwood pointed to significant increases in production of specialty crops such as organically produced grains, wheat with distinctive baking qualities, quality-assured pulse crops, soybeans for tofu production and specialty wheat for blending. This mirrored a switch from government to private business-dominated grain trading.

Mr Selwood said this meant that more information needed to flow between producers and consumers, and this provided more opportunity to create more value.

So that’s identity preservation!

Mr Selwood said regarding storage arrangements that his firm had developed a program to preserve the identity of grains from the time they are delivered, which enabled buyers to make specific demands on suppliers, Better technology could improve this segregation even further.

Container shipping is another trend with many high-value specialty grain markets moving in this direction. Containers offered a range of solutions to many different customers — they could even serve as storage sites for smaller customers such as small mills in Vietnam.

Internet grain trading

Mr Selwood said the Internet would improve transparency in the grain trading area, reduce transaction costs and allow the ‘chain of custody’ to be traced.

Some predict that agricultural transactions would account for 8 per cent of the one trillion dollars sold over the Web by 2004.