Victoria is looking after its food processing industry | FoodProcessing.com.au
The food industry is a very significant player in Australia, employing more than 220,000 people and generating more than $55 billion in exports annually — the sector constitutes 30% of all Australian manufacturing.
This is well known in Victoria where the food industry gives 69,000 people employment and brings in more than $8.7 billion a year in exports. In northern Melbourne alone there are about 400 food and beverage businesses with a turnover of more than $1 million, generating between them $2.6 billion a year.
Acknowledging the importance of the industry, the Minister for Industry and Employment, Wade Noonan, has just opened a new Food Research and Innovation Centre at RMIT’s Bundoora campus. The centre will serve as an incubator where RMIT experts can work with industry on small batch prototypes and then help businesses scale up production in an efficient way, helping them turn their ideas into innovative products and services.
At the launch RMIT Vice-Chancellor and President Martin Bean CBE said about Victorian-based food processors, “Most of these are small and medium enterprises that have the potential to double their business within a decade if they can overcome barriers to innovation, attract and retain a skilled workforce and create and implement more productive processes.
“That’s where RMIT comes in. We’re already a leader in food education and research. About 100 students graduate from our food science and technology program each year, with those numbers expected to grow to more than 150 by next year.
“Now we’ve established this Food Research and Innovation Centre to bring together education, research and industry, and to provide the necessary workforce for the food industry.”
Professor Harsharn Gill, director of the Food Research and Innovation Centre, said: “Students, researchers and food businesses have access to equipment and facilities that are unparalleled in this state.
“On just one floor, we can develop new food products, optimise processing protocols and test food for impurities, consistency, nutritional value, sensory perception and taste.”
RMIT scientists and students are already working with Sanitarium to make its Get Up and Go product even more attractive to the market. The team has also collaborated with a new Victorian company, Nuchev, to create an infant formula made from organic goat’s milk that comes from a farm near Clunes.
The centre is working with other partners, including Tatura Milk Industries, Lion Dairy and Drinks Australia, Chr. Hansen, Proportional Foods, Murray Goulburn, Coca-Cola, Simplot, Australian Meat Processors Corporation and Manildra Group.