Published: 20 Jul 2018
Tasmania’s clean and natural brand is an important part of the vision for the future of the State’s food sector, and it relies on trust, suggest researchers from the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA).
This is an early indication from TIA’s TasAgFuture project, which is examining what enables Tasmanian food producers and processors to achieve their goals, and what constrains them. The project will contribute to setting TIA’s future research direction.
Dr Deepa Kumar is an agricultural systems scientist and social researcher working on the TasAgFuture project. She is part of a team currently analysing interviews with 100 of Tasmania’s food producers and processors to understand how they see the future of the agriculture and food sectors.
“As we analyse the interviews, it is becoming clear that Tasmania’s clean, beautiful and natural brand is very important for the future of the State’s agriculture and food sectors,” Dr Kumar said.
“A common theme emerging is that project participants generally see the future as an exciting time because Tasmania has got products the world wants. We’re finding people are optimistic that maintaining our clean, green, healthy and sustainable image will lead us well into the future.”
Dr Kumar said the Tasmanian brand was complex and not just about being clean and sustainable, but also about building and nurturing trust between producers and consumers.
“The Tasmanian brand is tightly linked with consumers’ understanding of what a quality food product is. Consumers are showing they care about where their food is from and how it is produced, and the sector is extremely conscious of this,” she said.
This is highlighted in a quote from a TasAgFuture participant:
“I just think people are getting more and more conscious about where their food comes from and what they're putting in their bodies, and I think there's real value in being able to show people and educate people about what we actually do and… that we genuinely care about what we do.”
Dr Kumar said open communication about the processes of food production is important for building trust and an appreciation of perspectives – for both the consumer, and food producer or processor.
As another participant put it:
“I think we've just got to be careful with how we farm and just make sure we're not doing things that are wasteful and damaging the environment. You actually put yourselves in the public's eyes – is this the right way to do things?"
Dr Kumar expects the growth of the agriculture and food sectors will create a growing demand for aligned research, policy and industry efforts to improve communication and proactively look after Tasmania’s brand.
“This brand is an asset for everyone in Tasmania and requires collective efforts to make sure it is maintained and enhanced,” she said.
The TasAgFuture team is asking food producers and processors to complete an online survey to help them clarify the priorities for the sector.
Published as CuppaTIA in Tasmanian Country on 20 July 2018