Food & Agribusiness Network No Comments

Get involved in Future Careers Expo

A call out for food and agribusiness sector to get involved in the Future Careers Plus Expo to be held on 23 May at Lake Kawana Community Centre.  We are looking for about five local companies to take a booth each to profile their company and industry opportunities/trends. Hands on practical experiences or new technology that will engage these students rather than brochures and videos will be given preference.

The event will welcome approximately 1500 high school students and showcase future job opportunities and career pathways.

We are seeking to identify some cool things to touch, feel, try out, not just new technology.  Experiments showcasing product development and process would be of interest too.

For more information please contact Angela Quain at Sunshine Coast Council.

angela.quain@sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au

Food & Agribusiness Network No Comments

Provenance: The story behind our food & drink. By Rose Wright.

The 21st century is bringing profound changes to the way we communicate, do business, shop and even plan our next meal.  Digital communication provides a platform for each of us to connect and communicate across the globe.   More and more people are choosing to buy products online from virtual stores.  This phenomenal growth in e commerce means that many consumers are abandoning going to the shops to buy everyday items and retreating to their device of choice to shop and have it home delivered. This consumer behaviour is causing some to predict that there will be fundamental changes to the way our towns, villages and shopping malls will operate in the future.

Yet, by complete contrast, consumers are bucking this trend when it comes to the food they eat.  At a time when global growth of online retail is burgeoning, more and more people are keen to discover the provenance of the food they share with family and friends. They want to know who produced it, where it was grown, caught or raised and how it travelled from its place of origin to their plate. In short they are keen to understand the provenance of their food and are using this information to inform their shopping and dining choices.

Provenance is a term rarely used as little as two years ago.   Indeed I would have to take the time to explain the concept before starting a conversation about food and food systems.  Somehow in a very short period of time the use of the word provenance has slipped into our everyday language.

So what is provenance and why do we care about it?

From a consumer perspective, provenance is about understanding the origins of an item, whether it is food, drink or an artwork for that matter.  For a product to have provenance, you will need to understand its history, the story of where and how it came to be, and the journey it has taken to reach you.

When it comes to food and drink, provenance has a particularly important role to play.  At a time when global consumption means that ingredients are shipped as commodities from one part of the world to another for processing and packaging, before they are shipped back to your local supermarket or shop, it’s important to understand the journey of what you consume and feed your family.

We are very fortunate in Australia.  We have arguably the strictest food and farming regulations in the world, all with the aim of making our food and drink the cleanest and safest available.  In global terms it means our food is highly sought after in other countries.  People with less secure food systems seek out Australian produce and value added goods because our reputation is strong.

From a local or domestic perspective, perhaps we as consumers have been a little complacent, not realising just how lucky we are to have such amazing food available to us in abundance everyday.  But as more and more of Australia’s best  produce is exported, so too we are seeing more and more food products being imported from other countries with systems that do not offer the same level of food safety as our own.

New labelling laws will soon start to show more information about where ingredients are sourced, but this will only be part of the picture.  I don’t think its wise to remain complacent about the provenance of food.  You only need to recall the imported berry scare here in Australia and the melamine in foreign baby milk products to understand why you should care about provenance if your care about the health and wellbeing of your family and friends!

Many of our small to medium family farms, small independent food processors and value adders go to extraordinary lengths to provide absolute transparency about their products.  Many of our larger Australian manufacturers also increasingly provide this information too.   At the end of the day it is up to the consumer to ask the question and demand an accurate answer. What is the provenance of the foods they are buying?  It is our own responsibility to understand seasonality and what grows in our regions.

At a time when the average Australian farm receives on around 10% of the price people pay in the shops for fresh food, we as consumers need to absolutely care about food provenance.  If we don’t we are in real danger of losing our Australian producers and in turn access to Australian produce.

Consumers have the power to change our food system.  By supporting producers, shops, restaurants, café’s and markets that provide transparent information about provenance this can happen.  It’s quite simple really, just by asking simple questions of waiters and shop keepers about provenance of the ingredients or meals you buy and holding them to account if they can’t answer your question, or thanking them and supporting them when they can is all it takes to change the system.  Business will respond to consumers.  If you care about having access to clean, healthy, safe and fresh Australian food for your family, now and in the future, make the effort to ask the question about provenance next time you spend your money.

Where does this food or product come from?

Who was the farmer or fisher?

How did they grow, raise or catch it?

Where they paid fairly?

As a consumer of food and drink each of us has the ability to help promote provenance, by the choices we make everyday.  Make the effort to support our regional producers and manufacturers. If you get the opportunity, talk to the producer, visit their farm with your family or do a tour of their factory on open days.  Take the time to learn about seasonality. Try to make one day per week ‘eat local day’.  Become part of the provenance revolution that is supporting our local food heroes so they can keep producing good food for Australian families to enjoy for generations to come.

Food & Agribusiness Network No Comments

Media Release: Backing Local Farmers

RURAL BANK AND Woombye and District Community Bank® BACKING LOCAL FARMERS

As the only Australian-owned and operated dedicated agribusiness bank in the country, Rural Bank is backing farmers and the farming community in conjunction with the Woombye and District Community Bank® branch of Bendigo Bank.

A wholly-owned member of the Bendigo Bank family, Rural Bank is operated entirely from Australian shores providing a range of tools that work for the financial demands of all farmers.

Rural Bank’s partnership with local Bendigo Bank and Community Bank® branches ensures ease of access to specialist farm finance solutions and expertise in the community and on the farm, as well as contributing to the local community via the Community Bank® model.

Rural Bank Relationship Manager, Ian Herd said Rural Bank’s close association with Woombye and District Community Bank® provides a local platform from which to help agribusinesses in the region succeed.

“Woombye and District’s Community Bank® branch shares our understanding of the unique needs and demands of farming customers and communities in the Sunshine Coast and Wide Bay region,” Ian Herd said.

“We are backing farmers to help them harness seasonal opportunities and contribute to overall growth in the area.”

“When you choose Rural Bank, you can be confident that you are supporting the local community and country Australia while being backed by the security of a successful, well-managed financial institution,” Ian said.

Ian has more than 25 years of banking experience, including extensive expertise with a diverse range of farming enterprises.

Woombye and District Community Bank® Branch Manager, Hayley Saunders said the branch enjoyed having the opportunity to support the local farming sector.

“As a member of the community of Woombye and surrounding districts, we understand the seasonal challenges and opportunities that local farmers are presented with,” Hayley Saunders said.

“Whether it is for capital improvements, seasonal input purchases or expanding land holdings, Rural Bank’s financial tools provide the flexibility to make quick decisions based on individual needs at any particular time.

“And when you bank with Woombye and District Community Bank® branch you’ll be helping your community to prosper, by keeping local money and local business in your community – that’s good news for everybody,” Meagan said.

For more information about Woombye and District Bank’s community projects, visit www.BendigoBank.com.au

To find out more about Rural Bank’s specialist farm finance tools, contact Ian Herd on 0409 229 590 or Hayley Saunders on 0429 361 652 to arrange an on farm visit.

Food & Agribusiness Network No Comments

The Spirit House expansion plans

FAN members The Spirit House are planning an expansion to the existing restaurant with a brand new dining room, including a courtyard and bar.

In an article on the Sunshine Coast Daily the restaurant owners gave some details on the expansion, which sounds like it is sure to impress diners and also be an important next stage for one of the Sunshine Coast’s most popular and renowned restaurants.

We’re excited to check out the changes, which are likely to be completed by Christmas… it might just be a good excuse to visit if it’s been a while!