Technology transforming SA food production
IN just the past five years, SA is home to machines that can ‘see’ inside onions and apples, track water levels in remote locations, program robots to process 600 lambs every hour and also hosts a world-first solar-powered greenhouse for tomatoes.
While improving manual processes and turnaround times and bringing in labour cost savings over the long term, these multimillion-dollar innovations are designed to help the state benefit from the world’s growing appetite for clean, green Australian produce.
Most of the investment in production and processing innovation is being backed by state and federal grants in a push to reap wider economic benefits.
Food and beverage manufacturing is the largest manufacturing sector in South Australia, growing steadily over 17 years.
Gross revenue from the industry contributed $18.6 billion to the local economy in 2015-16 with exports valued at $5.22 billion (or 45 per cent of total merchandise exports).
Field crops and livestock were the major exports.
However, there is potential for further growth domestically and through overseas markets, according to a recent Primary Industries and Regions South Australia report, which analysed opportunities for functional and luxury foods, primarily in the Asia Pacific region.
“In 2014, the global market for functional and luxury foods was worth an estimated US$220 billion … However, only 10 per cent of South Australian manufacturers currently focus on functional and luxury food production,” the report states.
The main luxury food opportunities for SA include chocolate, red wine, truffles, Wagyu beef, and selected seafood such as abalone, Southern rock lobster and oysters.