David Loneragan

South Australia’s oyster industry on the mend

The South Australian oyster industry is a step closer to recovery, no longer needing government supplied juvenile oysters (spat) now and able to rely on spat produced by four commercial Eyre Peninsula suppliers.

Three years ago the SA oyster industry was affected by a severe spat supply shortage due to an outbreak of Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome (POMS) in Tasmania. To reduce the risk of spreading to our oyster growing regions, there was a ban on South Australian growers importing Pacific Oyster spat from Tasmania, where more than 80 per cent of spat was previously sourced.

SA’s minister for primary industries and regional development Tim Whetstone praised the efforts of growers and Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) in working together to address the challenges associated with the spat supply shortage.

“This is a significant milestone for the oyster farming industry. I praise the efforts of growers and PIRSA in working together to address the challenges associated with the spat supply shortage,” said Whetstone.

“Over the past three years, PIRSA’s research division SARDI has produced 106.5 million spat for the state’s Pacific Oyster aquaculture industry – 30 million, 34 million and 42.5 million in 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19, respectively.

Whetstone said the state government had continued to work to reduce the feral oyster population and associated POMS viral load in Port River through targeted cull of oysters.

“There is still work to do and we remain committed to supporting our oyster growers and the many associated regional jobs to recover and to unlock new opportunities,” he said.

The  industry-SARDI research partnership will be built on through a breeding program to produce POMS resistant oysters which Whetstone would help “future-proof” the industry.

“SARDI has already produced 126 Pacific Oyster families under the Australian Seafood Industries selective breeding program and an additional 31 families are currently under development which will become the founding population of a selective breeding program,” Whetsone said.

SA Oyster Growers Association executive officer Trudy McGowan praised PIRSA for their efforts to boost spat production in the wake of the spat shortage faced by the industry.

“This assistance has been vital in ensuring the long-term viability of the South Australian oyster farming industry,” said McGowan.

“We are pleased to be in a position where we are confident in the strong production results we are seeing from our local hatcheries and optimistic that we are now on track to a healthy recovery.”

Federal funding announced for aquaculture development in northern Australia

A $420,000 project funded by the federal government aims at expanding the aquaculture industry in northern Australia.

The Northern Australian Aquaculture Industry Situational Analysis has been commissioned by the Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia.

Over the next 12 months, researchers from James Cook University will work with the CSIRO, Blueshift Consulting, the Australian Barramundi Farmers Association, Australian Prawn Farmers Association and the Indigenous Land Corporation to develop a comprehensive aquaculture plan.

Federal resources and northern Australia minister Matt Canavan announced details of the project – to be led by James Cook University – in Townsville.

“Aquaculture is already worth more than $240 million a year in Northern Australia but we believe it can be further expanded and this study will help map out future developments,” Canavan said.

“It will examine issues including market and investment opportunities, jobs and skills, biosecurity, animal health, and environmental considerations.”

Federal member for Dawson George Christensen said he welcomed funding for an emerging industry in the region.

“Aquaculture is a growing industry in centres like Bowen and the Burdekin and I have met with a number of current and prospective proponents in recent years,” Christensen said.

“There is the potential to create hundreds of jobs in regions that desperately need them, and this investment by the Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia in putting together a plan for future developments will be welcomed with open arms.”

Canavan said Northern Australia is well-placed to benefit from growing world demand for sustainably sourced seafood farmed in freshwater and marine locations.

“Australian aquaculture production grew by more than 50 per cent between 2006–07 and 2016–17 to almost 94,000 tonnes, according to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences.

“National aquaculture production in 2016-17 was $1.3 billion. That included $120 million in Queensland, $90 million in Western Australia and $34 million in the Northern Territory.

“Those figures are good but I want to see aquaculture in Northern Australia grow further, providing jobs and income for northern communities in often remote areas.”

Canavan said this is the third aquaculture project funded by the CRC for Developing Northern Australia.

“It highlights the strategic importance of the aquaculture industry to growing jobs and opportunities in Northern Australia,’’ he said.

“Overall, the Coalition Government’s has committed $75 million over 10 years to the CRC for Developing Northern Australia for industry-led research collaborations in agriculture and food, health service delivery, and Traditional Owner-led business development.”

Queensland government announces aquaculture development areas in Rockhampton

The Queensland government has declared two Rockhampton region sites as prime targets to play a part in Queensland’s booming aquaculture industry.

State minister for agricultural industry development and fisheries Mark Furner today announced six land-based marine Aquaculture Development Areas (ADAs).

The state government announcement includes more than 3700 hectares of land in the Rockhampton region, including sites at sites at Casuarina Creek and Raglan Creek

“The Queensland government supports the future development and growth of an ecologically sustainable, diverse and innovative aquaculture industry,” minister Furner said.

“Our proximity to Asian markets, reputation for quality seafood and increased demand for Australian native fish species means Queensland is well-positioned to produce high value aquaculture products.

“Identifying areas suitable for aquaculture development is an important initiative to grow the industry, and will bring more jobs in a stronger regional Queensland economy.

Furner said the ADAs will help identify areas with potential for land-based marine aquaculture development and provide investors with a list of locations suitable for projects.

“Investors will not be limited to the identified areas and will still have the option to explore other parts of Queensland for land-based marine aquaculture development,” he said.

“The sites were identified in consultation with industry, government and affected landholders and would have the least environmental impact and land-use constraints for operating an aquaculture business.”

State development, manufacturing infrastructure and planning minister Cameron Dick said the ADAs provide a strong starting point for local government in considering the most appropriate locations for the industry along the Queensland Coast, as required by the State Planning Policy.

“As custodians of the Great Barrier Reef, the Government needs to take steps to ensure that growing aquaculture is done in a way that will protect the environment and the Reef at the same time,” Dick said.

“Through better planning upfront for aquaculture and looking at innovative technologies and approaches, we can minimise the environmental impacts while growing this important industry.”

WA government to develop horticulture business case for North Wanneroo

The Western Australian government has announced plans to maintain strong year-round horticultural production in the state’s north metropolitan region, following report findings on water allocation and land use issues.

The North Wanneroo Agriculture and Water Taskforce has recently delivered its report examining water allocation and land use issues in North Wanneroo to the state government.

North Wanneroo has been a traditional farming area providing seasonal, fresh fruit and vegetable supplies to Perth, interstate and overseas, with an estimated production value of agricultural production of $47.7 million in 2015-16.

State Agriculture and Food minister Alannah MacTiernan, said that the taskforce chair Sabine Winton and the committee had worked hard to deal with this challenge of sustaining urban horticulture in a drying climate.

“North Wanneroo’s agriculture industry continues to make a significant contribution to the local economy and the state’s agricultural exports, and it is important that we keep our existing irrigated land to supply fresh and diverse produce to the people of Perth,” MacTiernan said.

“Now that we have clarity on water allocation for the next 10 years, we can work together with industry to improve water efficiency.”

In response to the report findings, the WA government will develop a business case for a new leasehold agri-precinct in State Forest 65 in North Wanneroo, incorporating the use of recycled water.

The government will also invest in a new Water Use Efficiency Program to support growers and industry to assess and promote technology options that improve efficient water use, ensuring industry viability in a drying climate.

“There are constraints around water availability and growers need to be supported to operate in a drier climate. Our Water Use Efficiency Program will assess techniques and systems to help growers,” MacTiernan said.

“The state government will work with growers and the local community to develop a water scheme and lead a cost benefit analysis on a new agricultural precinct at State Forest 65.

“We will also be making a case for Commonwealth funding through the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund.”

Pest protection solution for grain storage

A new environmentally-friendly container solution for grain silos, organic products and brewery suppliers has been released by BOGE in an effort to provide protection from pests.

While the number of starving people in the world keeps increasing, large amounts of grains are going to waste after harvesting while on their way to the consumer. It is the poorer regions of the world that are most affected.

Granary weevils, parasitic fungi, mice and rats: a large part of the grain stored worldwide falls victim to pests and so-called breathing losses. Oxygen plays a critical part in this. 

Compressed air specialist BOGE has developed its container BLUEprotect in an effort decrease oxygen in storage and thereby minimise loses.

BLUEprotect uses nitrogen from the ambient air. A compressor produces compressed air close to the silo. It reaches a membrane filter via a dryer and combined filter, which separates the nitrogen (N2) from the oxygen (O2) and feeds it into the silo. 

As a main component of the air we breathe, nitrogen is available in unlimited supplies, and is completely harmless when it comes into contact with foodstuffs. After use, the nitrogen is re-absorbed into the ambient air.

“This makes BLUEprotect an attractive method of pest control where the use of chemical agents is not permitted or desirable – for example, in ecological farming or in the supply chain for breweries,” said Nalin Amunugama, general manager of BOGE Kompressoren Asia Pacific.

“Malting plants, for instance, have to ensure that no chemical residues are left behind in the barley; these could later find their way into the beer with the malt when brewing.”

ANU research uses satellite data to predict drought

Scientists from The Australian National University (ANU) have used new space technology to predict droughts and increased bushfire risk up to five months in advance.

The ANU researchers used data from multiple satellites to measure water below the Earth’s surface with unprecedented precision, and were able to relate this to drought impacts on the vegetation several months later. The research has been published in the journal Nature Communications.

Siyuan Tian from the ANU Research School of Earth Sciences said the team knew they needed to move into space to get closer to understanding the complex nature of drought.

“The way these satellites measure the presence of water on Earth is mind boggling,” Tian said.

“We’ve been able to use them to detect variations in water availability that affect the growth and condition of grazing land, dryland crops and forests, and that can lead to increased fire risk and farming problems several months down the track.”

Co-researcher Professor Albert van Dijk from the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society said combining these data with a computer model simulating the water cycle and plant growth enabled the team to build a detailed picture of the water’s distribution below the surface and likely impacts on the vegetation months later.

“We have always looked up at the sky to predict droughts – but not with too much success,” van Dijk said.

“This new approach – by looking down from space and underground – opens up possibilities to prepare for drought with greater certainty. It will increase the amount of time available to manage the dire impacts of drought, such as bushfires and livestock losses.”

The drought forecasts will be combined with the latest satellite maps of vegetation flammability from the Australian Flammability Monitoring System at ANU to predict how the risk of uncontrollable bushfires will change over the coming months.

The team used the GRACE Follow-On satellites, which were developed by American, German and Australian scientists. ANU Professor Daniel Shaddock led the Australian team.

Dr Paul Tregoning from the ANU Research School of Earth Sciences said the GRACE space gravity mission provided a measurement of changes in total water storage anywhere on Earth for the first time.

“Combined with measurements of surface water and top soil moisture from other satellites, this provides the ability to know how much water is available at different depths below the soil,” he said.

“What is innovative and exciting about our work is that we have been able to quantify the available water more accurately than ever before. This leads to more accurate forecasts of vegetation state, as much as five months in advance.”

Iba Munich – a chance to show off the latest and greatest in the baking industry

Food and Beverage Industry News attended the iba Munich bakery, confectionary and snack fair in Germany. Miri Schroeter caught up with Australian-based companies while at the event.

The 2018 iba baking, snack and confectionary fair in Munich, Germany was visited by more than 77,000 people from more than 160 countries. And with good reason – it showcased more than 1,300 exhibitors that ranged from equipment suppliers, flooring specialists, packaging manufacturers, tech gurus, ingredient suppliers and everything in between.

Apart from the delicious cakes and breads on offer, iba is the event to be at for finding the right piece of equipment to buy to help a business grow. Global companies with offices in Australia ensured they had their finger in the pie to not only showcase products, but also to engage with the latest European trends. This included finding out what matters most to manufacturers looking for products and services that will improve their businesses.

Nord Drivesystems exhibited at iba, with a two-stage bevel gear unit on display, which is available to the Australian market. The company’s Australian managing director, Martin
Broglia, said smart packaging is a prominent trend that Nord is staying on top of. “Packaging which helps products stay fresher for longer, is more environmentally friendly and tamper proof, is on the rise.”

To keep up with sustainable packaging trends, companies must implement Industry 4.0 and embrace technology in order to keep up with supply demand, said Broglia.

“More than ever, food processing and packaging is receiving a huge amount of interest, not only in the manufacturing sector, but from governments and environmental groups as well,” he said.

“There is a big focus on food waste and what manufacturers and producers are doing to minimise this. I expect we will see more and more innovation in the processing and packaging of food as the population surges, food becomes in shorter supply, and the topic of waste becomes more urgent.

“With increasing hygiene standards, I think we will see a bigger uptake on automation in the future as customers embrace automation for the safety, hygiene and productivity it can bring to an organisation,” said Broglia.

Automation helps create one-stop-shop

Kaak Group, a company that offers turn-key solutions for the industrial baking industry, had a large stand in the first hall of the exhibition. The equipment specialist knows iba is the place to introduce new products and
services to existing customers, as well as showing its point of difference to potential clients.

The company offers a one-stopshop service – from silo to truck. The total service concept allows companies to deal with Kaak for all product and service needs. Kaak Group ANZ managing director, Tyrone Crook, saw iba as an opportunity to connect with people in the baking industry that like him, come from the southern side of the world where thousands of companies set up shop to create artisan and tin breads, snacks, and pizza products.

Kaak Group has solutions for small,medium and large businesses in the baking industry. The company sells equipment for mixing, dividing, rounding, proofing, moulding, lidding, final proofing, baking, delidding, depanning, cooling and freezing, among other product requirements in the baking and snack industry.

One of the latest services introduced to Kaak Group’s inventory, released at iba, was the e-commerce platform. The service makes it easy for customers to buy spare parts, learn about their equipment, and purchase additional equipment online. The webshop provides easy access to more than 20,000 products and a 24/7 helpdesk, which can be accessed through a multi- user account.

“Each piece of gear that is sold has an online manual. We are able to identify that particular piece of kit,” said Crook. Identifying equipment quickly makes it easier to source spare parts immediately, he said. “If the customer requires something desperately, they could have it almost straight away.”

The multi-user access allows employees to use the webshop for their company, but controlled access ensures safety and security. Access to the account has varying permission levels to allow some users permission to order new products and view account activity. Companies can also set a maximum spend level and they can allow some users to fill the shopping cart and share it with colleagues, while restricting purchases.

Kaak’s stand at iba also featured a newly created dough sensor for inline use. The sensor can test the dough on several parameters during production and allows the operator to take corrective actions on time, instead of leaving it too late.

Baking pans and trays installed with an electronic barcode system have also been introduced to Kaak’s product line. The pans help control product and equipment quality. Every time a pan/tray passes an in-line laser on the manufacturing line, it records whether bread is left on the pan/tray and the frequency of use. “It tells you how the bakeware is   performing, and it rejects the bakeware when it isn’t performing well,” said Crook.

Each pan/tray can be used about 3000 times before the user is informed that it should be recoated – a service also provided by Kaak Group Australia/New Zealand.

Step-by-step

While bread featured heavily at iba, Kaak’s equipment can also be used by other businesses such as pizza and snack manufacturers. The equipment can be slowly integrated into an existing factory, or Kaak can provide a system from scratch,
said Crook. “We can help businesses from start-ups right up to industrial bakeries. The unit machines are manufactured to suit smaller or bigger requirements, depending on the capacity of a manufacturer.” Kaak can help companies, traditionally creating hand-made products, transition to an automated process, said Crook. Equipment can be bought as it is
needed. For example, a company may buy a divider first and then buy a rounder or moulder, so employees don’t need to do everything by hand, he said.

“They can buy standalone pieces of equipment, or they can buy a fully automated system. It’s as manual or as automated as you want it.”

Automated systems have their benefit as they can let the user know if there is a failure or a potential risk, said Crook. “It prevents a breakdown. For example, if a gear box that drives the oven has a fault, it will be picked up and it will send an alert to your HMI (Human Machine Interface) screen.”

If a spare part is needed it can usually be sourced from Kaak Group in Brisbane, but Crook also works with clients to suggest spare parts that a customer may benefit from keeping on site as critical spare parts.

Try before you buy

Buying large manufacturing equipment is a huge investment so Kaak provides food manufacturers with the use of its technology centre for trials before deciding on which products to purchase to suit a factory’s needs, said Crook. He has taken Australian customers to Kaak’s technology centre in Holland to test new products as a way to deliver proof of concept and the best solution for them prior to purchase. Alternatively, customers can send their recipes, and preferred processing methods, to Kaak’s team who will test the products to find an ideal manufacturing solution.

Wrapping up iba 2018

Iba may be a baking and snacks fair, but products showcased there work for many food and beverage manufacturers. What made it a special fair, was seeing companies such as Kaak Group and Nord Drivesystems using the event to introduce new and existing “must have” products and services that are available to not only the European market, but the companies’ Australian counterparts too. Iba celebrates success and innovation in the food industry – giving attendees the chance to be a part of creating movement in the sector.

The days, hours, minutes and even seconds are already being counted on the iba website for the next expo. The triennial event is set to be held in Munich again in September 2021 and time will tell whether the next expo will trump this year’s figures and high calibre of exhibitors.

Coca-Cola Amatil to sell SPC

Coca-Cola Amatil will sell its fruit and vegetable processing business, SPC, which is expected to record a $10 million loss for the 2017-18 financial year.

The beverage company’s decision to sell SPC comes four years after the Victorian government and Coca-Cola Amatil co-invested $100 million ($78 and $22 million respectively) to help the struggling business.

Coca-Cola Amatil initiated a strategic review into SPC in August. The company’s group managing director, Alison Watkins, said that while there were no plans to close SPC, the review had concluded that selling the Shepparton-based firm would provide the best means of enabling it to grow in the future.

“We believe there are many opportunities for growth in SPC, including new products and markets, further efficiency improvements, and leveraging technology and intellectual property,” Watkins said.

“The review has concluded that the best way to unlock these opportunities is through divestment, enabling SPC to maximise its potential with the benefit of the recent $100 million co-investment, while Amatil sharpens its focus as a beverages powerhouse.”

Watkins said that while SPC production would for now continue as normal at Shepparton and Kyabram, Coca-Cola Amantil would develop a divestment timeline and process over the coming months.

Watkins also indicated that Coca Cola Amatil has decided that the IXL and Taylor’s brands will remain with SPC following the announcement on 21 November that an expected sale to Kyabram Conserves will no longer proceed.

Coca Cola Amatil has invested approximately $250 million into SPC since acquiring it in 2005, including in new tomato and high-speed snack lines, a new aseptic fruit processing system and new export opportunities including in China.

Watkins said that Coca-Cola Amatil expects its 2017-18 full-year results will weighed down by $50 million in expenses due to “cost optimisation programs” and that the company would possibly be unable to meet earnings growth target in the 2018-19 financial year due to factors that include the impacts of container deposit schemes in Australia, higher PET resin costs and a weak Indonesian rupiah.

Watkins said that SPC’s $10 million loss was “modest” and “not a big deal” in the  long-run.

“The challenge for the business is top-line growth, but the core structure of the business now is very good. So what will move that loss to a profit is growth, and that’s what the business is poised to do,” Watkins said.

“We really see a very bright future as a result of the investment we’ve made.”