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Message from the Director

How can ‘Big Data' & the Internet of Things affect the way our premium produce is grown, transported and purchased?

Pathways to Market aims to be an exemplar to Australian agriculture of how to build international competitiveness through targeting niche markets with premium products and rigorous attention to product quality, provenance and food safety.

The Australian Research Council Industrial Transformation Research Hub focusses on the entire value chain to deliver enhanced value.

“In today’s competitive global markets the unit of competition is the whole value chain rather than individual businesses,” says Pathways to Market Director, Associate Professor Laurie Bonney. “Every product is only as competitive as the chain that produces and delivers it to market.”

Dr Bonney says although agriculture and fresh produce lead the world in adopting production technology, they’re among the last industries to adopt new IT and management techniques such as ‘Big Data’ or prescriptive data analytics.

Pathways to Market aims to change that. It’s showing how science can deliver value to consumers and value chain partners that will improve global competitiveness and access to markets.

“Consumers around the world are demanding greater transparency about the produce they are buying and eating,” Dr Bonney says. “They want confidence about where it comes from, how it was produced, and importantly, if it is safe. Being ‘clean and green’ is not a competitive advantage but a license to be in the game!

“Pathways to Market is focused on premium food exports, specifically to Asia and the US. From a production perspective, we’re looking at aspects of food quality, traceability, and the natural capital of the production environment, all of which involve additional sensing capability.”

This project is developing new sensors using new UTAS chemical technology with a commercial partner Grey Innovation to monitor the status of the soil and water environment. Gallagher Australia provide the technology for monitoring animal performance.

These data are combined with existing public and private data sets to generate stories for both consumers and producers about the quality with which the food is generated, processed, distributed and consumed. This rich information sharing within supply chains is enabling all participants to realise enhanced value.

The natural capital work stream is looking at farm-level data to support valuations and risk analyses as well as to underpin the broader environmental credentials of food products.

Further down the value chain, the research is studying consumer choice factors ensuring that consumers receive the information to support their purchasing decision and that the supply chains deliver the value that consumers are willing demand.

“This data generation, visualisation and sharing is allowing us to identify opportunities to solve challenges, make better decisions and create real impact,” Dr Bonney says.

“Having the ability to demonstrate in real time, the provenance and quality of food is an extraordinary opportunity for producers who are working to establish, capture and maintain premium status to create and sustain value in overseas markets.

“We ensure our research outputs are evaluated and refined in collaboration with our commercial partners to optimise the benefits for their businesses. “For example, the food stability model we’ve developed – including a predictive beef spoilage model - has significant potential for efficiency and loss-mitigation in distribution and storage."

- Associate Professor Laurie Bonney, Pathways to Market Director