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By Emily Lehmann 29 September 2021 3 min read

The world trusts and loves our Aussie-grown food, best known for its quality, safety and ‘clean and green’ credentials.

We've set the bar pretty high, even if we do say so ourselves. Top-quality grass-fed beef steak with a drop of Barossa Valley shiraz, anyone?

Australia exports about 70 per cent of the food it produces. And researchers predict these exports will earn a record $49 billion this financial year.

But there is growing international competition and challenges, like food fraud and technical barriers to trade, to address. Protecting and further growing Australia’s reputation as a producer of quality trusted food is critical to our future economy.

Strengthening 'brand Australia' is the focus of a new Mission launched in partnership with the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.

The Trusted Agrifood Exports Mission aims to capture value for our Aussie-grown food by 2030. It also joins our Drought Resilience and Future Protein Missions to help overcome Australian agriculture’s biggest challenges.

The Mission will develop the digital tools and technologies needed across the agriculture and food supply chain. As a result, producers will be able to better verify their products and sell them at higher prices to valuable new markets.

Verifying product credentials

To combat issues like food fraud, we need independent data, information and science to verify food is actually what it claims to be.

For example, we are using environmental markers from soil and water to create regional fingerprints that are unique to an agricultural production region. As a result, we can use these markers to verify claims about food’s origin, sustainability, and production methods.

This, coupled with the development of national data infrastructure to verify food origin, will combat fraudulent product labelling and biosecurity concerns. It will also increase consumer trust.

Automating compliance for agrifood exports

Export regulations are complex: they differ from country to country and are housed in different languages.

With automation and smart digital tools, we can make export regulations much simpler and easier to understand, reduce paperwork and speed up certification for Australian producers and export regulators.

Imagine sensors in food processing plants that collect live data on hygiene practices, safety, pest and disease controls. These sensors also collect data on a range of sustainability metrics like energy and water use. This provides greater continuous assurances to regulators that compliance is being met. It also costs less than the current manual practices.

For example, pest and disease remain the major trade barrier for exporting fruit. We can use real-time pest monitoring technologies to help manage pests like fruit flies in apple or pear orchards. We can use sensors to double-check there is no pest damage to fruit.

These sensors will replace time-consuming manual checks to build absolute trust in the Australian food brand.

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Overcoming technical barriers to export

The Mission is also developing new digital solutions that will give producers greater flexibility in where they export their products.

As an example, Australia exports beef to more than 100 markets with a range of biosecurity and food safety requirements.

New digital solutions will make it easier for producers to identify opportunities to enter new markets. These include decision-making tools that take into account different business risks.

It’s about providing companies with greater agility to demonstrate how they meet the relevant biosecurity, food safety, quality and environmental requirements.

Just a one per cent increase in export regulation process efficiency would mean millions of dollars in annual gains for the beef industry.

Beef export is just one example. The Mission aims to increase efficiency more broadly and lead to significant growth for Australia's agriculture and food sector as a whole.

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