The sixth Global Food Forum, held in Sydney in March, underlined that Australia is one of the most trusted food brands in the world, but we must work to maintain that reputation.

Attended by a diverse audience of farmers, producers, retailers, investors, researchers, food safety and technology experts, including Dairysafe Chair Roseanne Healy, the event was a partnership between The Australian newspaper and Visy with support from The Wall Street Journal.

“The key message reinforced throughout the day was that Australia is a trusted global food brand, but we must continue to work hard to ensure this is maintained and validated,” Roseanne said.

“Our industry traceability systems need to keep pace with customer expectations. Customers today are looking for ‘clean label’ products – in other words, transparency around a lack of additives, artificial preservatives or chemicals.

“No longer a fad, ‘clean’ ingredient labels are an important dairy food trend, expected to increase consumer trust and mitigate brand reputational risk for dairy food companies. Transparency must be embraced along the entire value chain.”

At the farmer to processor and processor to retailer levels, improved transparency means modernising supply chain relationships.

On the subject of changing consumer expectations, it was noted that modern consumers are looking for more engaging information about food products which assures them of authenticity, production values and quality standards. Artisan products will be a global opportunity for the SME business sector to embrace.

“With SME company DNA grounded in innovation, this will be a high value opportunity for dairy product development in South Australia,” Roseanne said.

“Characterised by high quality ingredients, small scale production and care taken in production, with a story that connects the product to place and provenance, South Australia is well positioned to take advantage of this growing consumer segment.”

Other presenters spoke about the need for Australia to improve market access, particularly in growth regions such as Asia. “Technology may help overcome barriers which impede trade,” Roseanne said.