Seafood industry buoyed by Federal support

Seafood Industry Australia (SIA) has welcomed the Federal Government’s $110 million International Freight Assistance announcement.

“We’d like to thank the Federal Government for helping to keep Aussie jobs and Aussie seafood on the table,” SIA CEO Jane Lovell said. “The Australian seafood industry has been in turmoil since orders to China evaporated on 24 January. We asked the Federal Government for financial support and coordination assistance to reopen export markets; today we can tick that box.

“Seafood Industry Australia was created for moments like this. As the voice of the Australian seafood industry we asked our members what their needs were, how we could keep the industry afloat, and we took that message to Governments right around the country.”

The assistance will help the Australian seafood industry restart exports to global markets, including China. This means not only securing Australian businesses and jobs in the seafood industry, but further downstream in processing, freight and beyond, according to Lovell.

“For the Aussie seafood businesses who have effectively been without an income for nine weeks, for their employees, and for their families this marks the beginning of a return to normal. There’s no better stimulus than getting back to work. We have orders waiting, and we now have a way to confidently go fishing to fill those orders,” she said.

“We asked for government fees and charges to be waived, and the Federal Government heard that request and has waived fisheries management levies under the Australian Fisheries Management Authority, saving our industry more than $10 million this year. This waiver is welcome news for our struggling industry and will provide a slight reprieve to many.

“We look forward to welcoming more good news over the coming weeks as other states assist industry by waiving their fees and charges. We understand there are many challenges for Governments across the country right now, but as an essential service, who provide more than one billion meals to families here and overseas, it is critical that we’re able to keep working.

“We have worked closely with the Federal Government, and particularly Assistant Minister Jonathon Duniam and his office. We thank John and Danielle for responding to our calls for help – and we look forward to continuing to work with them to deliver on challenges we continue to face. We’d also like to acknowledge the hard work of Seafood Trade Advisory Group’s (STAG) Nathan Maxwell and Jayne Gallagher.”

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.”

Expansion and government funding recipe for success at Geelong Bakery

 The government of Victoria is helping a family owned bakery in Geelong expand its operations and create new jobs in the area.

The Routley’s Bakery in North Geelong received a $187,500 grant from the government through its local industry fund for transition.

The bakery is undergoing a $2.2 million expansion.

Money from the grant has gone towards renovating the current production site, purchasing new food manufacturing equipment and towards taking on six new workers – with more new jobs to be created.

READ: Victoria’s wine industry gets a $2 million boost from the government

Established 70 years ago, the company makes pies, cakes and bread for clients within the retail, education, health and aged care, leisure, transport and logistics, defence and government sectors.

Member for Geelong, Christine Couzens, said supporting companies such as Routley’s Bakery was important in employing more people in the community and supporting the local economy.

Routley’s Bakery has also been in touch with The Gordon’s Skills and Jobs Centre to recruit staff, including those from the automotive industry.

Minister for industry and employment, Ben Carroll, said the government would always support companies that help boost productivity and create new jobs.

“[The] government will support local businesses so they continue to grow and innovate – which will allow them to employ more Victorians.”

Victorian manufacturing contributes $27.7 billion to the Victorian economy and is home to more than 13,000 businesses employing more than 286,000 people.

The Victorian government has provided more than $120m in manufacturing support, creating more than 6,000 jobs and driving more than $1.6b in private investment.

The local industry fund for transition helps businesses generate new investment and create jobs for retrenched workers in areas affected by closures elsewhere.

The fund has supported more than 40 projects – expected to create more than 1,200 new jobs, more than 1,000 of which are suitable for ex auto workers.

Government Funding for the Food Industry

An interesting anomaly about government funding is that, on the one hand it is such an attractive source of cash, but on the other hand the majority of eligible companies either don’t know it exists or don’t know how to access it says Lior Stein from Rimon Advisory.

If I were to simplify government grants I would explain them in two points:
The first being Innovation and the second being assistance for bringing foreign revenue to Australia.
The benefit involved in attaining government funding can be quite large and at times could amount to between 40% – 50% of funds spent in innovation or marketing to foreign markets.

The beginning of assessing innovation is quite simple. Ask yourself the following question, are you doing something different that you believe your competitors aren’t doing and that is new in the space?
If the answer to that question is yes then the next step would be to consider the 3 basic principles of innovation grants  

The 3 basic principles of innovation grants are 
1. New Knowledge 
2. Experimentation 
3. Uncertainty

These three principles all flow into each other.
Lets explain these principles using actual case studies.

1.    New knowledge begins by identifying a gap in the market. 

An organic beverage manufacturer and formulator (Organics Pty Ltd) realised that the short shelf life of organic beverages is a limiting factor for exportation. Some web searches were done and the result was that there seems to not be an off the shelf product available in the world that solves this problem.

A doughnut maker (Jam Pty Ltd) realised that the insertion of jam into doughnuts was exceptionally time consuming and limited the speed of their production run. Some web searches were done and the result was that there seems to not be an off the shelf product available in the world that solves this problem.

2.    Experimentation
At this point Organics Pty Ltd started developing a solution to fill the gap that was found. The development process required experimentation and different iterations of the product. The process is an ongoing process as Organics Pty Ltd is continuing to improve their findings in this area.

Jam Pty Ltd needed to automate their insertion of jam and cream into their doughnuts process. Process engineers were hired to design and develop the process. Experiments were required in order to get the process precisely correct to optimise the automation

3.    Uncertainty
Both Organics Pty Ltd and Jam Pty Ltd didn’t have certainty at the outset that these new projects were going to work. They did believe that each would be a success but the final products were achieved through much trial and error.
These final products are the items that filled the initial gap and are now the new knowledge that each company has brought to the world.

The main innovation grant available in Australia is the R&D Tax Incentive and can definitely be applied to the food business industry should the project be eligible.

Foreign revenue being brought to Australia

This avenue is simpler to explain than that of innovation grants.
There is funding available for exporters who are spending money on marketing their products to foreign markets.
Again, 3 basic principles, the first being an Australian product, the second being that revenue flows to Australia and the third being that marketing expenses are recognised in Australia.

1.    Australian Product
The product needs to be either completely made in Australia or the majority of the product made in Australia.
If the products have an element made in a foreign country e.g.China it could still be considered an Australian product.

2.    Revenue flows to Australia
The revenue gained from the Australian products being marketed abroad needs to be recognised in the Australian entity.
An entity need not have actual revenue in the first two years of applying for this grant.

3.    Marketing expenditure being recognised in Australia
Expenditure spent on marketing to foreign markets needs to be recognised in the Australian entity.
These expenses could include staff and consultants employed in the foreign country, flights, conferences attended, google and facebook advertising, websites targeted overseas, trademarks and patents, pamphlets and flyers made and free samples being given to enter a market.

The incentive described above is known as EMDG (Export Market Development Grant).
EMDG offer up t0 a 50% grant on the expenses described above.

Statistics show that about 70% of eligible Australian companies either are unaware that they are eligible or simply don’t know how to go about accessing the funding available.

Best practice would be to consider the principles explained above and enquire as to a possible benefit and eligibility.