Rural Industries Research & Development Corporation
|Foreword||1. Purpose of the Plan|
|2. Vision Statement||3. Background to the Industry|
|4. Key issues for the Industry||5. The R&D Program for 2001-2006|
|Appendix-SWOT analysis for the industry||References|
Within the context of the Corporation's Five-Year Strategic Plan (1997), we have committed ourselves to developing five-year plans for each major RIRDC program. Because of their diversity, the activities comprising the New Plant Products Program are best represented by several individual commodity-specific plans such as this one for native food.(1)
The plan identifies the key objectives for the R&D investments that RIRDC will make in coming years on behalf of the native food industry and the Commonwealth Government
The first industry R&D Plan was released in October 1998. A meeting in March 2001 was convened with leading industry participants from the production to the marketing and processing ends of the value chain to review the Plan. This version of the plan arises from that meeting and has been widely distributed for discussion and amendment
The plan will be distributed widely by the Corporation (including insertion in its website http://www.rirdc.gov.au ) and will be used to guide on-going R&D investments. It is consistent with RIRDC's Strategic Plan (1997-2002) and will be implemented in accordance with the provisions of the Primary Industries and Energy Research and Development Act 1989
Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation
1 The term "native food" has been used through this report where appropriate as research carried out under the first plan suggested this was a more appropriate term for promotion of the industry into the future. The Workshop of industry representatives in Canberra, March 2001, endorsed this.
1. Purpose of the Plan
This R&D plan has three main
The plan focuses on plant-based native food, R&D on animal-based native food being currently supported from RIRDC’s New Animal Products program
It is an updated plan from the R&D program of 1998 and is intended to serve the industry during the early years of the 21st century. It has a lifespan of five years but can be amended at any time to reflect changes in industry needs and priorities
For RIRDC, the plan is the latest
link in the chain connecting:
The plan is based on consultation with the industry and the community. It stems from a RIRDCsponsored industry workshop held in Canberra in February 1997
In March 2001 a group of 15 industry members, including growers, processors, marketers and communicators in this field came together to review the 1998 document. They found much of it did not need changing but where research had been undertaken some of the Objectives and priorities had moved on, as has the industry
2 Vision Statement
A profitable, agriculturally and environmentally sustainable plant-based Australian native food industry that is founded on an international reputation for the reliable supply of consistently safe and high quality food backed by effective and imaginative promotional and educational material, and that recognises Aboriginal culture, food practices and involvement
3. Background to the
While bushfood has been the staple of Australia’s Aboriginal people for millennia, the impetus for the establishment of a bushfood industry has been attributed to pioneers such as Vic Cherikoff and to the restaurateurs Jean-Paul Bruneteau and Jennifer Dowling who introduced native foods into their menus during the early and mid-1980s (1). In addition to being novel and Australian, such food was perceived to be clean, healthy, organic and environmentally friendly. TV programs such as The Bushtucker Man have done much to raise public awareness of native food in subsequent years, albeit from a somewhat different perspective. As a result of research conducted under the first plan it was agreed that the appropriate terminology for this industry should be Native Food so this will be used in future
Size and nature of the industry
The industry is small, fragmented and frequently undercapitalised (2). Bush harvesting is the dominant means of production with half a dozen species still wild collected but cultivation is expanding. Some participants favour the production of native food by mainstream agricultural and horticultural methods whereas others prefer alternative approaches that are perceived to be more environmentally friendly than conventional methods. The absence of registered chemicals for native species means that organic methods are the norm2. Native foods generally comprise only a part of the overall business activity for many of those involved in the industry
The gross value of the industry was estimated to be $10-12 million (including value adding) in 1995/96 (2 || 3). The gross value of the industry includes subsistence use, wild harvest, farm production, a wide range of value adding activities and a variety of endusers including restaurants, retailers and other hospitality providers. The farmgate and ex-nursery gross value of production is thought to be about $5 million. Average returns across the industry are reputedly low. No current firm figures are available but the recent take-up of native food product by major supermarket chains, both locally and overseas, suggests increasing customer demand.
There are approximately 500 active participants in the industry (excluding a very significant number of Aboriginal participants through the Land Councils and other groups. They operate in all states and territories
The industry comprises:
|· wild harvesters||· hospitality providers|
|· nursery operators||· retailers|
|· commercial producers of raw produce||· food service operators, and|
|· processors of raw produce||· tourism operators.|
They operate as single-purpose enterprises, networks, vertically integrated operations and wholesale/merchandising enterprises. Only two or three of these businesses have an annual turn over of more than one million dollars.
|· aniseed myrtle||· muntries / muntharies|
|· Davidson’s plum||· riberries|
|· lemon aspen||· quandong|
|· lemon myrtle||· wild limes|
|· mountain pepper||· wattleseed.|
Except for a small amount of fresh produce going to restaurants, the bulk of the domestic produce is dried, frozen or further processed, often in combination with non-native food ingredients, into a wide range of value-added foodstuffs (2,3). Gift and specialty shops are important outlets in this sector of the market. The food service sector is becoming increasingly involved but uptake by processors servicing the larger retail and wholesale food service market is currently limited (3)
There is significant interest from export markets in Europe and North America. This interest is fostered by the success overseas of Australian wines, meats and seafood. Demand from Asia is currently small
Industry associations both generic and for specific crops, and co-operative ventures have been formed while some have withered. Newsletters and a magazine for the industry have appeared.
3 "Wild limes": this term probably needs redefinition by the industry as there are six native spp known and thse are also know to hybridise with other introduced spp. Currently a number of these are commercially cultivated
A SWOT analysis (Appendix 1) indicates that to prosper and be sustainable, in the broadest sense, the industry must address the following key issues or result areas:
As with many young industries, understanding of existing and potential markets for native food and the forces that drive these markets is often poor. This situation can lead to participants not focussing their energies and scarce resources on the potentially most rewarding sectors of the market. This issue is particularly important now that the potential supply of some foods is thought to outstrip likely demand (3)
There is an increasing trend for both domestic and export markets to seek suppliers who consistently provide safe and good quality food. Environmental concerns are also of increasing importance as consumers expect to buy food that is clean and green. To maximise its market advantage, native food enterprises must be in a position to assure buyers and consumers that it recognises such values, endorses HACCP practices and does indeed provide produce that is safe, of good quality and produced in an environmentally responsible manner.
In the long term, there is a need to devise and adopt production systems that are both profitable, ecologically and agriculturally sustainable and viable in terms of end-user pricing. The ecologically sustainable management of bush sources and the domestication, improvement and cultivation of "wild" species and forms are important facets of this issue as is the responsible use of water, soils, and agricultural chemicals
In spite of efforts by the industry associations and government bodies there is a paucity of information of all sorts about the industry and within the industry. What information there is often unevenly distributed. This situation must be rectified if industry participants and would-be entrants are to be enabled to make informed business decisions. Tackling this problem will require the generation of new knowledge, the analysis and more critical use of existing knowledge, the establishment of a database, and improved communication via the Internet, industry networks and newsletters, research reports, and training courses.
It is a prerequisite for all research carried out under this R&D Plan that the knowledge of Aboriginal people and their association with the land and the plants on which the native food industry is built must be recognised and respected. It is a further requirement that where information is provided to researchers by community Elders and other Aboriginals, such information must be identified and codified. The ethical consideration should be that opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities or individual families, arising from native food development should be fostered and promoted as a necessary step in the commercialisation of native species
The difficult issue of hybrids of native species with related species, particularly for instance in the case of wild limes, needs to be considered by the industry.
Consultation with the industry has identified understanding and strengthening markets and profitable, agriculturally and ecologically sustainable production as priority issues, with each of these needing to be underpinned by a strengthened human resource base.
The program will support R&D aimed at:
The objectives should be regarded as complementary and having flexible boundaries that enable the key issues for the industry to be addressed effectively via more than one strategy
The effectiveness of the program will depend greatly on the industry’s support for and involvement in the program both at the design stage and during its carriage.
Objective 1: To understand, strengthen and develop markets
Objective 2: To improve existing products and develop new ones
Objective 3: To enhance the ability of the industry to provide products that meet appropriate safety and food standards
Objective 4: To improve production efficiency while maintaining ecological integrity
5: To enhance
the human resources of the industry
The goals here are to seek out and disseminate information on and to foster understanding of existing and potential markets for bushfood. This will enable market trends, opportunities and constraints to be recognised and responded to in both marketing and production
The goals here are to help the industry to meet market needs, to address opportunities, to improve product quality and supply (both raw and processed), and to add value
The goal here is to maximise market advantage by ensuring the ability of the industry to comply with the ANZFA Food Standards Code or other appropriate codes (for example, SQF 2000TM Quality Code:1995). Inter alia, the Code comprises the objectives of protecting public health and safety, providing adequate information to enable consumers to make informed choices, and providing minimum value-added product standards to prevent fraud and deception
The goal here is to develop and foster production systems that are profitable and ecologically sustainable
For wild harvested
For cultivated native foods:
The goal here is to strengthen the human resource base of the industry by improving access to information, by encouraging collaboration and a common ethos, and by supporting training
( Note this SWOT was largely
done in 1998 and has only been slightly modified since)
2. ANBIC. "Business and Marketing Paper". Proceedings "Culture of the Land; Cuisine of the People" Conference, May, 1996. 40 pages
3. Graham, C. and Hart, D. "Prospects for the Australian Native Bushfood Industry". RIRDC Research Paper No.97/22. 74 pages. Note additional updated estimates have been provided by Vic Cherikoff (2001)