Farmer to Consumer: The rise in responding to lifestyles

07 March 2017

Margaux Beauchamp , Executive Director, Corporate Finance |

The recent Brisbane Future Food Day was a chance for Queensland to enforce its position as the leading state for food science and technology. It's an important growth industry for the state, and events such as this illustrate the changing trends driving innovation for businesses in the industry.

Incoming trends in the AGTech and food innovation space include the consumer-driven nature of the current market which has made it even more important for companies to react to customer feedback. Additionally, the growing influence of technology options in the manufacturing and production process brings even more investment and grant opportunities for food production companies.

5 food trends happening now

For years companies could rely on the efforts of its food scientist and marketing team to create a product and bring it to market. They could communicate the various benefits to consumers on their terms. Now, that conversation has reversed, and it's up to companies to react to consumer demands and trends. Broadly, the market is moving towards healthier alternatives, especially for snack products, but ones that can still excite the senses and not sacrifice flavour.

There's a big focus on plant-based foods with the addition of protein, such as adding chickpeas or protein powders to products. Some are also starting to find alternatives to ingredients linked to common allergies. There's a move away from traditional milk-based products and towards options such as coconut or almond milk instead. Some of the other trends on the rise include:

  1. Fat increase and sugar decrease in products - Sugar is now the evil ingredient and good fats are accepted as being a healthier alternative but still tasty
  2. Coconut product companies - Coconut water, oil milk, flour are all on the rise
  3. Macrobiotic products - Intended for gut health
  4. Second hand ingredients - Using a waste product in the supply chain to make a new product that helps lowering food waste
  5. Alternative coffee options - Ready to drink craft coffee, such as cold brew and nitro cold brew.

Queensland is leading the way for food science

Companies and researchers around the state are driving to advance food science and production as one of Queensland's growth industries. For example did you know that there are more food scientists in Queensland per capita than anywhere else in Australia?
It's in an industry that has the State Government's support as well, with three main initiatives currently the major focus across Queensland. The first is University of Queensland's food research programme. It involves 300 research staff and students, all of whom are focused on food and agriculture innovations that can add real value to the market.

The second is the Health and Food Sciences Precinct at Coopers Plains which was built to foster collaboration between researchers working in the area of biosecurity, healthcare and food technology. The precinct hosts 190 scientists from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, CSIRO, and The University of Queensland through the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation.

Finally, Wandering Cooks Kitchen in South Brisbane is an incubator where food innovators can produce their food and beverage ideas in the city and then take them to market. This is an amazing food asset in the heart of Brisbane and is the largest urban shared kitchen in the world.

BDO’s clients embracing new technology

Agriculture and food production is also changing rapidly thanks to the introduction of new technology that revolutionises a number of standard practices. One of BDO’s Food & Agribusiness client now use drones to identify livestock and survey crops for pathogens. We're also seeing a number of analytical tools diminish in size. Some tasks that previously required sizable laboratory equipment can now be completed with handheld devices.

This is also improving the crops that agricultural organisations rely on. Some crops are becoming "ruggedised" so they require less water and can be grown on poor land. There's also a focus on fruit and vegetable crops infused with improved concentrations of vitamins, minerals and other key nutritional compounds.

Achieving Grant & Investment Application Success

Last year’s launch of the Queensland Government’s $40 million Business Development Fund is good news for food & agribusinesses looking to unlock their innovative potential.

The future is today

BDO is excited to see the AGTech space grow locally and witness the supply chain revolution. I welcome your comments and insights below. How do you think we will feed the world by 2050? What innovation or opportunities are you currently seeing?