New Strategy aims to transform the industry - Vision for the future

Australian Grains Industry Strategy 2005-2025

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 and end-use.

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 substantially.

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 issues.

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