Matthews Australasia moves to new office to accommodate sustained growth

Matthews Australasia has moved offices, as the family-owned product identification and inspection company anticipates continued growth.

Matthews has moved into new offices, at 10 Lakeview Drive, Scoresby, Melbourne, which were designed to provide maximum value to staff and to a broad network of suppliers and customers.

The state-of-the-art facility includes offices, a warehouse and a distribution centre.

Mark Dingley, CEO of Matthews Australasia, said the decision to expand its head office in Melbourne reflected the company’s ongoing success and confidence in the future.

READ: Matthews Australasia appoints new CEO

“This is an exciting time for Matthews and marks a huge milestone for the company, our employees and customers who will all benefit from the opportunities this expansion presents,” he said.

“Our new offices are an open, collaborative space, allowing for a better work environment for current and future staff and the opportunity for further business diversification and expansion,” said Dingley.

The building was designed by Peter Ryan Architects, whose Caribbean Park designs have been shortlisted for the 2018 annual Victorian Architecture Awards.

Building materials and finishes were selected to enhance the use of natural light throughout both the office and warehouse areas.

The new space reflects Matthews’ focus upon delivering quality customer service, and has been designed to support efficiency for all departments.

The building is located in Caribbean Gardens Business Park and provides easy access for staff as well as reduced transit times for supplier and customer freight.

Making Western Sydney Greater 2018 Survey launched

National accounting firm William Buck, in partnership with St. George, the Western Sydney University and Western Sydney Business Connection, have launched the latest edition of the Making Western Sydney Greater 2018 Survey.

This initiative is a collaborative project between the four organisations to identify the important issues and priorities for businesses in the Western Sydney region. The organisers use the insight collected from the survey to produce a report and coordinate a number of activities in the region.

Over the next decade, Western Sydney is expected to have an additional one million residents living in the region. The plans to create a city with better accessibility with new transport networks will have a big impact on local businesses.

The last edition of the survey in 2017 found that over 48 per cent of Western Sydney businesses expected to increase their full-time and part-time workforce. Last year, 86 per cent of Western Sydney businesses had plans to grow their business with a projected growth rate of 15 per cent.

In this latest edition, the survey focuses on the benefits and obstacles of a strong digital marketing strategy, the impact of better connectivity and new transport networks, and take a look at the growth and employment outlook for businesses in Western Sydney.

All Western Sydney business owners and managers are encouraged to take part in the survey.

Participants who  take the survey before 8 August, go in the draw to win 2 tickets to the 2018 Bledisloe Cup and watch the ultimate Trans-Tasman rivalry at ANZ Stadium.

To participate in the survey, click here.

Alcohol companies target the 20% of Australians who drink 75% of the alcohol

Researchers have known for a long time that alcohol consumption is quite concentrated in a small part of the population. They argue about the exact distribution, but there is substantial agreement that, so long as alcohol sales are not heavily restricted, consumption is distributed in a quite predictable way. That is, there are many light and moderate consumers, along with a long tail of those drinking at heavier levels.

In Australia, the top 20% of the drinking-age population in 2013 consumed around three-quarters of all the alcohol consumed. The top 5% consumed more than a third.

The concentration of alcohol consumption among the heaviest drinkers has actually increased in recent years. The top 10% of consumers accounted for 49% of the consumption in 2001, and this had increased to 53% in 2013.

The heaviest-drinking 20% of the population reported consuming a daily average equivalent to 43 grams of pure alcohol – a bit over four standard drinks. This is a substantial underestimate of their actual drinking.

The total amount of drinking reported in such surveys is calculated to be about 55% of the alcohol sold in Australia, so their actual daily average is likely to be about 7.8 drinks. This is nearly four times the low-risk limit of two standard drinks per day recommended by the National Health and Medical Research Council.

The dangers of alcohol

If you drink enough alcohol, you get intoxicated, making you unfit for a lot of everyday activities. This includes, for instance, driving a car, most kinds of work or looking after children. Apart from these issues of injury and social functioning, alcohol also carries longer-term health risks.

At an average of four drinks per day, the chances of dying of an alcohol-related cancer or other chronic disease are four in 100 for men and 4.5 in 100 for women. At 7.8 drinks a day, the chances are about five in 100 for men and eight in 100 for women.

Adding in risks of dying from alcohol-related injuries more than doubles the risk for men, and increases the risk for women by more than 50%. Just considering the risks of health and injury harms, alcohol is by far the riskiest commodity that a majority of us regularly consume.

The current guidelines “to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol” set upper limits calculated on lifetime death risks from drinking. These are around four times the rate National Road Safety Strategy aims for as an upper limit of lifetime rate of deaths from traffic collisions. They contrast, for instance, with the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) guidelines on water safety, which aim to keep the risk of death from contaminated drinking water below one in a million.

Alcohol marketing

Those in the business of selling alcohol have long known about the skewed distribution of alcohol consumption in the population. In meetings among people in the industry, those at the top end of the distribution are called the “super consumers“, and they are vital to maintaining or increasing sales.

If all the “super consumers” reduced their drinking to the two-drinks-a-day average recommended by the NHMRC as an upper limit, it has been calculated, based on self-reported consumption, that alcohol sales would fall by 39%.

In its public face, the alcohol industry takes the line that it is only seeking to protect and promote “responsible drinking”: how to “drink properly”, minimising risks of harm.

But, in its internal discussions of the need for retailers to “identify and target super consumers”, the industry is acknowledging a large part of its sales are to drinkers who are taking substantial risks with their own lives and the lives of those around them. If all drinkers in Australia were to drink within the government guidelines for low-risk drinking, the alcohol market would shrink substantially.

If governments want to reduce alcohol-related harms, they can’t rely on the industry’s commitment to responsible drinking. It’s directly against the industry’s interests for the heaviest drinkers (who make up the majority of their sales) to drink less.

Given this inherent conflict, policymakers should focus on well-evaluated policies such as reduced late-night trading hours for pubs and nightclubs and smarter taxation of alcoholic products. Most importantly, governments should be sceptical of working in partnership with an industry whose interests are diametrically opposed to public health.

The Conversation

Robin Room, Professor and Director, Centre for Alcohol Policy Research, La Trobe University and Michael Livingston, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at The Centre for Alcohol Policy Research, La Trobe University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Fonterra disappointed over credit downgrade

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited has been notified today that rating agency Standard and Poor’s has downgraded the Co-operative’s credit rating from A to A-.

Chief Financial Officer Lukas Paravicini said: “Our underlying financial strength and credit quality remain strong. This is recognised by Standard and Poor’s maintaining our rating in the ‘A’ category and reflects our fundamental strength and financial discipline.

“It is important to note that the revised rating will not have any impact on Fonterra’s strategy or on farmer shareholder payout.”

Mr. Paravicini said the Co-operative’s current debt is at expected levels for this stage of the investment cycle.

“We carefully planned our investment strategy by first reducing our gearing over a number of years to enable us to make higher levels of investment in key strategic opportunities.

“These investments are making the Co-operative stronger and positioning us well for the future. We have built additional manufacturing capacity in our home base of New Zealand which is improving returns by giving more product options during the peak production period and our planned investments in China are building our presence in our number one strategic market,” Mr. Paravicini said.

“In addition we are progressing well with our business transformation and this will further strengthen our financial position.  Global dairy prices are also recovering which is a positive development, particularly for our farmer shareholders,” Mr. Paravicini said.

“Given this, we are disappointed that Standard and Poor’s has not reconfirmed its rating from April, especially when global dairy prices have significantly improved and we have continued our strong financial discipline,” Mr Paravicini said.

Merger threatens global beer diversity

According to the Washington Post, the world's two biggest beer makers are considering merging in what is being touted as the biggest deal in brewing history.

Budweiser giant Anheuser-Busch InBev said it has offered a takeover of SABMiller in a deal that would create a US$245 billion brewing empire.

"What a terrible, terrible idea. This should be dead on arrival at the DOJ," (Department of Justice), said Diana Moss, president of the American Antitrust Institute.

"There would be grave concerns over their power to control price . . . and the effects on the craft-brewing industry would be devastating."

The long-speculated merger would combine Budweiser, Coors, Miller, Peroni and other brands, providing control to about one-third of the world's beer supply.

Anheuser-Busch InBev was itself born of the world's biggest beer merger, in 2008, after it was taken over by InBev – also a product of the 2004 merger of Belgium's Interbrew and Brazil's AmBev.

Because both brewers are so big, and the industry is already so consolidated, it could be hard to find another firm powerful enough to compete on production, distribution, marketing and everything else, according to the Washington Post.

"Who would be able to even buy any of those assets, and have an actual competitive presence in the market?" Moss said. 

Free trade agreements fail to boost Australian agriculture and food manufacturing

Many claims are made that Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with select trading partners will benefit Australian agriculture. OECD statistics say otherwise.

The balance of trade positions of Australian agriculture and food manufacturing have deteriorated since FTAs with New Zealand, the United States and Thailand have come into play.

The long-standing 1983 New Zealand arrangement shows growing imports of processed food products, especially since 2000. Australian food exports to New Zealand have levelled off since 2011 with a US$600 million Australian deficit on food products in 2014. Agricultural goods have been close to balance with just over US$270 million of raw or minimally processed product flowing each way.

The net result (shown in black) has been a persistent and generally worsening deficit for Australia in its agriculture and food trade with New Zealand for the whole period.

 

Author developed using OECD STAN bilateral trade in goods database

 

The agreement with the United States came into effect in 2005. Again agricultural products are close with Australian imports of US$210 million slightly exceeding exports since 2007. Australian food exports have always exceeded imports but the surplus halved between 2004 and 2013. The basis for the almost doubling of food exports in 2014 is unclear, but meat products driven by beef herd rundown in drought affected Queensland would be part of what may be a one-off spike.

The net result (again shown in black) has been a persistent but generally narrowing surplus for Australia in its agriculture and food trade with the US since the FTA came into play. The Australian 2014 surplus of around US$2 billion appears likely to settle back to around US$700 million or less in the years to come.

 

Author developed using OECD STAN bilateral trade in goods database

 

Thailand also signed a bilateral agreement in 2005 and the result has been a generally worsening agriculture and food trade deficit.

 

Author developed using OECD STAN bilateral trade in goods database

 

The rise in Australian food product imports from over US$200 million to more than US$800 million in the decade to 2011 is pronounced, as is the subsequent levelling off. Australian agricultural and food exports to Thailand generally travelled together until 2008 but after this, agricultural exports rose markedly for three years before falling back. The rise and then fall of commodity prices explain much of this hump.

Clearly, these three FTAs have failed to deliver. There has been no improvement evident in the agriculture and food trade position under any of the three agreements. Rather, deterioration has been evident in each case.

Turning now to the world, Australia’s agriculture and food balance has been a persistent and generally growing surplus. This is the opposite effect. Australian trade performance has been better with non-agreement partners. Again commodity price effects are evident in recent years for agriculture exports.

 

Author developed using OECD STAN bilateral trade in goods database, Author provided

 

New Zealand, USA and Thailand account for about 30% of the rising food imports but only around 15% of rising food exports to the world. They also account for only around 5% of agricultural exports but 35% of imports.

Further analysis can be undertaken, but on these figures, FTA partners have clearly been able to outperform Australian enterprises. On the other hand, where no Agreements have been struck, Australian enterprises have outperformed partners to record a generally improving agriculture and food trade surplus.

How might things change with three new North Asian trade, regulation and investment agreements (Japan, Korea and China), and perhaps a Trans-Pacific Partnership? History suggests no necessary gains and trending losses on merchandise trade for both food manufacturing and agricultural industries.

It seems we should be more closely monitoring the realities of trade, not fixating on rhetoric and so far empty promises.

There is nothing “free” about these trade agreements.

The Conversation

Mark McGovern, Senior Lecturer, QUT Business School, Economics and Finance, Queensland University of Technology

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Food packaging company scoops top business award

Integrated packaging company tna has won the prestigious EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Eastern Australia. 

Awarded in recognition of tna’s commitment and dedication to innovation in the food industry, the judging committee praised the company’s hard work and pioneering approach that has been so instrumental in tna’s rise to be a worldwide leader in food packaging and processing.
 
Considered the world’s most prestigious business award, the EY Entrepreneur of the Year is the only truly global programme of its kind. tna received its award in the industry category. 

The judges described tna as an Australian icon and commended its focus on innovation in what is, traditionally, a conservative industrial market, to firmly establish itself as a leading light in the global food processing and packaging market.
 
Commenting on the award, Alf Taylor, co-founder and CEO of tna, said: “We are honoured and thrilled to win the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Eastern Australia. Through complete determination, sheer hard work and our desire to always ‘rethink the conventional’, we became a world-leading specialist of cutting-edge processing and packaging machinery, supporting food manufacturers in over 120 countries around the globe.”
 
Nadia Taylor, tna’s co-founder and director added: “Australians are truly great at innovating but often the biggest challenge is obtaining the funding to create that all-important first prototype. I’m so glad we never let go of our dream and were able to turn a revolutionary idea for packaging food products faster and much more efficiently into a reality and successful business. We’re delighted to receive the EY Entrepreneur of the Year award because it represents our persistence and our dedication, and we hope that inspires our fellow Australians to go after their dreams too.”
 
Entrepreneurs from more than 145 cities in over 60 countries across the globe participate in the scheme. This year, over 100 entrepreneurs competed in five regional programmes around Australia. 

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