Round-up of the 49th Annual AIFST Convention

The 49th Annual Australian Institute of Food Science & Technology (AIFST) Convention covered much ground – innovation, new technologies, exporting, foreign investment and digital disruption.

This year, the Convention was co-located with FoodTech Queensland, and the two events, combined, attracted more than 3,500 people from all sectors of the food industry. Over the two days, delegates heard from a range of industry experts, who presented on streams such as innovation, value-adding, science and new technologies.

The Convention was officially opened by former Australian Minster for Industry and Science, the Hon. Ian Macfarlane, who reinforced the importance of innovation in agribusiness and highlighted Australia’s poor record of converting research and development (R&D) investment into commercial outcomes.

Phil Ruthven, futurist and founder of IBISWorld, presented the keynote address at the Convention, saying that long-term exports are in danger and may require a major re-think of how and where we produce food.

The second day of the Convention was kicked off with the Young Professionals in Food Networking Breakfast, where industry experts shared their advice on career advancement in the food industry. At the “Current challenges and opportunities for Australia’s food and beverage sector” industry roundtable, foreign investment incorporating land ownership and exporting were two major topics debated.

A panel of leading food and agribusiness industry experts agreed that while innovation is the key to ensuring a viable future for the food and agribusiness industry, the concern around foreign investment is impacting markets and hindering the collaboration that is urgently required.

The panel, chaired by former ABC journalist Peter Couchman, was made up of some of the industry’s leading decision-makers, including Peter Schutz (FIAL), Michele Allan (Science and Innovation Australia), Richard Katter (Ernst & Young), Dr André Teixeira (CSIRO), Terry O’Brien (Simplot), Janice Rueda (Archer Daniels Midland), Dr Ben Lyons (TSBE) and Alastair Maclachlan (Preshafruit).

Experts at the AIFST Convention also discussed challenges facing the industry, such as Australia’s increasing ageing population, as well as how digital technologies will disrupt the food and agriculture industries. The overarching theme of the Convention was “The Pulse of the Industry”, demonstrating the current innovation and advanced technology employed by the industry.

50th Annual AIFST Convention, 17-19 July 2017, International Convention Centre Sydney

The 50th Annual AIFST Convention will be held at the new International Convention Centre Sydney. The Convention will be co-located with Asia Pacific’s iconic food manufacturing event – foodpro – which drives the Australian food processing industry forward, with technology and innovation being brought in from all over the world, including processing technology, plant equipment, ingredients, additives, testing equipment and more.

AIFST is the only national voice and network for Australia’s food industry professionals. The Institute provides a suite of support services to underpin the contribution its members make to a sustainable, world-leading Australian food industry.

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