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Melbourne's food manufacturing chain 'could almost double'

15 May, 2015

Melbourne's food industry is set to double over the next 10 years in a plan that will make the city's northern region a major food industry hub with the assistance of RMIT's facilities and expertise.

The Food and Beverage Growth Plan – Melbourne's North project was initiated by the Northern Melbourne Regional Development Australia Committee and developed in collaboration with project partners NORTH Link, the Australian Government Department of Employment, the Victorian Government Department of State Development, Business and Innovation (Bundoora office), La Trobe University and RMIT University.

The plan outlines a number of strategies to build on the competitive advantages and opportunities and grow jobs and investment in the region, with RMIT playing a vital role in providing the research, development and expertise needed to sustain it.

If the recommendations outlined in the plan are followed through, it is estimated that the region could almost double the $2.6 billion turnover to $5 billion over the next 10 years, creating another 7,000 jobs.

At an official launch at the proposed site of RMIT's food pilot plant at the University's Bundoora East campus, the Hon Lily D'Ambrosio, Minister for Industry, Energy and Resources said she was very excited to launch the plan.

"It is fitting that we announce this new project at RMIT Bundoora, as this will be the site of its state-of-the-art food pilot plant, which will enable Victorian food businesses to test new products without interrupting production," she said.

"RMIT will also help develop better links between the tertiary and food sectors to grow research and development, improve innovation uptake and develop skills in the workplace.

"This will deliver benefits to food and beverage businesses in Melbourne's north where there is a hub of people, knowhow, commitment, and a drive for innovation, while producing high quality secure safe food and beverage products that are so important on a domestic and global scale."

Martin Bean, Vice-Chancellor and President of RMIT, said the University was delighted to be involved in the plan with its partners.

"How do we secure food, water and environmental integrity for the future and how can we harness the latest technology to create high value products for new markets domestically and around the world?"

"A competitive and sustainable food and beverage industry is indeed vital for Australia's economy," he said.

"The growth plan stresses the need to address skills and capability development in the food industry - which is incredibly exciting."

RMIT and La Trobe are foundation partners in Melbourne's food industry innovation precinct which will be hosted at La Trobe University and the research and academic strengths of La Trobe and RMIT will cover the food supply chain from pre- to post-farm gate.

"While we both work with large, global corporations, each university has a particular focus on small to medium sized businesses," Martin said.

"Together we provide a student experience that produces work-ready graduates, well-versed in the application of advances in science and technology to meet the skills need of the food industry.

"We also offer cutting-edge multidisciplinary research and development capabilities covering the whole food value chain to stimulate innovation and enhance Australia's international competitiveness."

Martin said working in collaboration on priority opportunities was essential for maximising economic benefits for the northern Melbourne region, the state and the nation.

"RMIT is proud to have played a role in bringing about the food and beverage growth plan and on behalf of the many collaborators, we look forward to continuing to work together to bring the strategies to life."

The Food and Beverage Growth Plan's strategies include:

  • Establishment of a cluster of successful well-managed food and beverage businesses in the region
  • Establishment of an industry body that provides vision and leadership for the industry
  • Creating a culture of continuous improvement of product development, quality, systems and processes
  • Access to a pool of skilled, trained and motivated staff
  • Enabling access to capital and grant funding to finance the progression of the growing SMEs
  • Ongoing investment in Research and Development and innovation
  • Facilitating a strong commitment to pursuing alternative markets and channels
  • Making Melbourne's north an attractive destination for the location of food businesses
  • Creating a brand identity that unites the northern food and beverage sector and provides a platform on which to promote the region's food credentials.

A regional steering group is working on how to implement these strategies and will provide recommendations in the future.

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