Day One Highlights - AIFST 50th Anniversary Convention: Monday, 17 July 2017

Technology, Science and Innovation driving the Future of Food in Australia

The largest gathering of Australian food professionals came together for the AIFST 50th Anniversary Convention from 17 - 18 July 2017, themed The Future of Food. Leaders from the Australian food industry shared their insights around the importance and impact of Technology, Science and Innovation on the industry moving into the future.

Here are the top take-outs from day one of the AIFST 50th Anniversary Convention:

Dr Chris Downs, AIFST Director, warmly welcomed attendees to the Convention, which has been a thought leadership forum for the Australian food industry for five decades, bringing together the leading minds to discuss the science of food and share insights and learnings amongst Australia’s food industry professionals.

Reflecting on the transformation of the industry and community in general during the past 50 years, the 25th President of the AIFST, Peter Schutz, highlighted how the way we communicate, source information, connect with each other and demand convenience has accelerated. Peter announced the launch of an AIFST pilot mentoring program, with the full program to be rolled out in 2018, to address the increasingly crucial need to remain relevant.


Shaun Cousins, Executive Director, Retail and Consumer Analyst at J.P. Morgan, addressed the Future of the Market, with the key challenge being the divergence between business confidence and consumer confidence, and whether the traditional trend would see subdued consumer confidence follow strong business confidence? Mr Cousins suggested consumer spending patterns in relation to food have changed significantly, with a greater affinity for food, and it is expected that consumer demand for varied food offerings and increased willingness to dine out will continue. A key trend presented was a change in consumers shopping behaviour – with more frequency, smaller basket spend, and the shift to choosing to visit multiple retailers. This fragmented retail spend was presented as a great opportunity for smaller retailers and fresh food specialists to enter the market.

James Deverell, Director – CSIRO Futures, discussed the future of food, looking at the trends and subsequent opportunities that exist for those who innovate and move fast. One world; choosey consumers; health on the mind; a less predictive planet; and smarter food chains were all noted as trends that globalisation and new technologies have seen emerge. CSIRO took this opportunity to officially launch the Food & Agribusiness Roadmap, charting a course for product technology and innovation. The Roadmap outlines value-adding opportunities for Australian products in key growth areas, including health and wellbeing, premium convenience foods and sustainability-driven products that reduce waste or use less resources.

Justin Nel, Key Account Director – Australia & New Zealand Mintel, shed light on the iGeneration and Millennials, explaining that this is the first generation to grow up with everything digital, and as a generation they share this as a commonality across the globe. This generation value customisation, non-conformity, uniqueness and personal enrichment over career changes. Key take-outs for the food industry were that this generation is moving towards cooking at home as a way to better health, which will lead to an increase in spending on food for cooking in-home, creating opportunities for brands to provide products for young consumers to enjoy before, during, and after in-home meal preparation and the meal itself.

Providing insight on innovation in the food industry was UberEATS, General Manager, Simon Rossi presenting a view that technology + food = innovation. UberEATS has greatly impacted three groups through creating an innovative way of dining in. The delivery service has enabled time poor consumers to enjoy the convenience of the food they want, when they want it, thereby getting time back in their day. UberEATS has helped restaurants reach more consumers, utilise existing assets (kitchens) better and no longer be constrained by bricks and mortar. This trend will only continue with more and more restaurants are going purely online and commencing delivery before their physical restaurant is ready for service.

With regards to the future, Simon Rossi said, “We can’t predict the future, the one thing that we do know is that the way we access and consume food today is going to be very different in five years, and ten years and fifteen years, and it’s the organisation and the individuals that adopt these new technologies and start using technology in a new way that will be the ones ushering in this new future.”

Continuing the theme of innovation and technology, CEO, Tanya Barden of the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) today officially launched the latest version of their Product Information Form (PIF V6.0) at the AIFST Convention. “PIF V6.0 is the start of a new era and just the beginning of the tools AFGC is developing to help industry turn data into information under the AFGC Authorised Food Data System,” announced Ms Barden.

PIF is a tool developed by the food industry in Australia and New Zealand to obtain and share consistent and standardised information about food ingredients and finished products. Delegates are invited to see a demo of PIF during the AIFST Convention by visiting stand W46 at foodpro 2017. Three vendor companies are currently authorised by the AFGC to deliver PIF V6.0 online, these include: Oak Barrel Software, Bizcaps Software and Hamilton Grant.

Finally, AIFST is thrilled to announce the soon-to-be-launched, Australian Food and Agribusiness Directory, a joint initiative between Food Innovation Australia (FIAL), AIFST and the Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP) in collaboration with Data 61. An exciting initiative that will help the food industry connect with other organisations more easily. For the first time ever, over 3,000 Australian businesses from the entire food and agribusiness value chain will be listed in one central location. To find out more, visit: