Greetings for New Year 2018. 

During late 2017 the Centre for Agribusiness held a number of internal and external meetings as a result of its growing work portfolio and expanding network of partners.  Three such meetings were held with NSW DPI, chaired by Armidale-based Strategy and Policy economist Robyn Hean; the Federal Minister or Small Business visited the UNE SMART Region Incubator; Armidale Regional Council staff visited to discuss regional development aspects of large scale horticulture; and a number of international guests visited.

Rural Road Research

David Hadley, consultant David Anderson and I completed an Agrifutures-funded study of alternative approaches to cost-benefit analysis of the upgrading of rural roads, in partnership with Moree Plains and Gwydir Shires.  We are now proceeding with further work on issues of rural roads and infrastructure – read more.

CEH in regional NSW

Following David Hadley’s completion of a study of the potential for Controlled Environment Horticulture in regional NSW, we have met with Armidale Regional Council to discuss regional development aspects of the industry.


Food shopper survey findings in Armidale

Following surveys of Armidale food shoppers 6 months before, and 6 months after, the opening of Aldi in 2016, Masood Azeem, Renato Villano and I completed and submitted to two papers to industry journals.  The first examines factors affecting customers’ share of wallet spent in the various Armidale supermarkets.  The second characterises Armidale food buyers’ loyalty to brands and stores.  In both cases the implications for food industry managers of the changing agribusiness competitive environment are examined. Read more about this project via the Project Pipeline.

IFAMA 2018 – Update

We are planning for the Agribusiness Study Tour to Argentina, to take in the IFAMA conference and the International Student Agribusiness Case Study Competition.  Sally Strelitz, Stuart Mounter and I interviewed over 30 student applicants, for both the study tour and membership of competition teams.  Training in Agribusiness Case Study analysis will proceed in Trimester 1 2018.

Post-doctoral research with Dr Masood Azeem

On-going work by Dr Masood Azeem involves three new studies on innovation.  We are seeking out the characteristics of firms and markets, but more particularly of management decisions, that contribute to more and better innovations in the food industry.  The first uses an international database maintained by the World Bank, which allows insight into the extent of innovation in industries (including agribusiness) and the factors explaining innovation performance.  The second aims to use Australian Bureau of Statistics Data generated from surveys of innovation by Australian firms.  The third wil be the subject of a large scale survey, to examine linkages between innovation and vertical integration in Australian agribusiness (i.e. “farm to fork” or “paddock to plate”). Read more about this project via the Project Pipeline.

Supply chain research

We continue our work on information in supply chains, particularly:

  • Valuation of the information used to measure meat quality in the Australian Red Meat Industry (PhD study by Nikki Zhang, for which survey participation is being requested from all meat industry participants)
  • Design of information platforms for data sharing (PhD study by Matthew Wysel, based on experience with the BANKS platform which serves the UNE SMART Region Incubator)
  • Development of mechanisms to accelerate uptake of genetic information by commercial sheep and beef producers (a proposed partnership with NSW DPI)
  • Influence of consumer perceptions of technology on uptake of such technologies by actors in Australian food and fibre supply chains (a proposed partnership with NSW DPI and Jobs for NSW’s AgTech Cluster)

An extension of supply chain information work for 2018 is Food Waste.  UNE graduate Sarah Rohr has begun her PhD studies in this subject with Dr Stuart Mounter, and we will welcome visiting Brazilian scholar Professor Aldara Cesar da Silva to work with us for 6 months on this subject.

Gender in Agribusiness

A number of colleagues are working on gender in agribusiness, particularly Dr Lucie Newsome who will be conducting a survey of agribusiness service providers later in 2018, Dr Theresa Smith-Ruig and Professor Alison Sheridan on barriers to, and enablers of, success for entrepreneurial women in agribusiness.

Regional Economic Analysis

Work on regional economic analysis by Shawn Leu, Ed Lefley and Masood Azeem continues, particularly in the development of measures of economic resilience in NSW’s regions.  At several meetings with NSW DPI during late 2017, joint work to characterise agribusiness resilience and comparative advantage were discussed.

We have been assisting Australian Organics in preparing their Annual Report for 2017, primarily using a survey of around 200 certified supply chain operators and retailers in the non-farm organic food sector.

Tertiary Education in Agribusiness

We recently completed data collection on a project examining industry support for tertiary (university and VET) studies in agribusiness.  We conducted a survey of students, firms, industry bodies, and education providers, as well as reviewing past material such as statements by the Australian Council of Deans of Agriculture on the subject.

I invite you all to look at the Centre’s  project pipeline for more information on the current work portfolio, and by all means contact me for opportunities for working with the Centre. 

We particularly need participation in our survey of meat industry participants about the value of meat quality information, so would appreciate your completing our survey.

This week has seen record heat and record cold reported on the same days around the World.  We recently had a new Minister of Agriculture appointed, and renewed interest in big agribusiness by the tax man.  Beyond the fence, the New Year is already an interesting one.

Derek Baker

Director, UNE Business School’s Centre for Agribusiness.