Analysis and Commentary

Digitisation and the renaissance of Australian manufacturing – by Robert Giles

Analysis and Commentary

By Robert Giles, CEO SPC Ardmona

At SPC, we are always focussed on our customers and how we can best serve them. Australian taste palettes are ever-changing, in the 1970s the humble avocado was considered the height of sophistication, today our tables are filled with foods and flavours from around the world with everything from pomegranates to jackfruit.

I’ve been thinking about some of the big food trends we’ve been seeing across the board and wanted to share them with you.

Australia’s Manufacturing Renaissance

In Anthony Pratt’s keynote address at The Australian’s Global Food Forum he noted that Australia is in the midst of a “manufacturing renaissance” and I couldn’t agree more.

Food supplies one in three manufacturing jobs and since the Global Food Forum launched in 2013 value-added food exports have grown from an $18bn industry to $28 billion.

The federal government’s $1.5 billion package for our sector is another step in the right direction. At SPC, we have our eyes set on supplying not only Australia but the world and we hope to become a key contributor to our industry’s growth and success in the coming years.

SPC has a Seat at the Table

Over the past year, it’s been great to see SPC have a seat at the table with major brands like Domino’s, VISY and Nestle to name just a few.

Our company has been highlighted as a case study in turnaround success. It’s been a big year for our team with a number of key partnerships and acquisitions announced so far, it’s just the beginning, there’s even more on the cards to deliver this year.

Our global growth strategy means that we need to innovate and diversify.

Maintaining our Supply Chain

2020 has been challenging for all food manufacturers from having our staffing limited by border closures to sourcing enough product locally.

However, it’s fair to say that Australia – unlike many other countries that have experienced food shortages this year – has maintained supply and ensured food was on the table.

We adapted and worked collaboratively with our cross-sector partners and we should be proud of our industry’s resilience and strength in what has been a challenging year.

The Rise of Home Cooking

In 2020, it’s true to say that Australians dined at home. Supermarkets have seen a significant rise in home cooking ingredient sales which looks like a long term trend not only for supermarkets but the whole food industry.

Certainly this year we have seen our sales continue to grow from the initial panic buying earlier in the year right through to now where we are seeing a trend to buy local.

The Digitisation of the Food Business

From local retailers to distributors or food producers like SPC, 2020 has been a year of rapid digital growth for many businesses.

Domino’s Pizza Enterprises Chief Executive, Don Meij, recently highlighted how his business’ online sales rose 21.4 per cent to $2.36bn, making up 72.1 per cent of all sales at The Australian’s Global Food Forum.

For manufacturers, there’s an urgency to digitise our businesses to increase efficiencies for our customers. At SPC, we are making a significant investment in our infrastructure to ensure our business is globally competitive.

Australia’s food and agriculture sector is the envy of the world and we need to ensure it keeps going from strength to strength. At SPC, we are taking full advantage of this opportunity to bring more high quality and value-added products from Australia to the world.

Robert Giles is CEO, SPC Ardmona. In June, 2019 Coca-Cola Amatil sold its SPC fruit and vegetable processing business to Shepparton Partners Collective for $40 million.

Picture: SPC Ardmona

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