A major milestone was reached this week for Western Australian food growers, producers and manufacturers, with ground broken on the state’s first food innovation precinct.The Western Australian Food Innovation Precinct will be the new home of Murdoch’s Food Futures Institute. The precinct includes an advanced food manufacturing facility, food science labs, a test kitchen, bench scale food processing and teaching and learning facilities.
Scientists will use the facility to take what farmers grow and support existing and new businesses to add value to products in Western Australia.
“This precinct will provide the means to develop and test food product ideas in the real world and give growers and producers the confidence and data to scale up – or move on to the next idea if it doesn’t work,” said Professor Peter Davies, Pro Vice Chancellor of the Food Futures Institute.
“It will enable the nutritional claims of produce to be tested, the provenance of food to be established and many other questions growers are asking about their produce.
“It’s a fantastic collaboration between world-class scientists and industry, together with teaching and learning, that will deliver real world commercial advantage to agri-food partners.”
The Precinct’s Food Technology building will include food prototyping facilities that host commercially focused projects, supported by the Commonwealth-funded Future Food Systems Cooperative Research Centre (CRC).
CRC projects slated for the Precinct will involve world-leading scientists at Murdoch University and the Australian National Phenome Centre, Western Australia’s Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, and Peel Development Commission.
Murdoch has also recently established a new degree in Food Science and Nutrition, which will locate students in the facility.
The Australian food and beverage sector is a major economic contributor, generating close to $30 billion in export value and supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs.
Building upon this base is vital for Australia’s future sustainability and security and provides a growing opportunity to support Murray and other regional communities and expand economies.
Economic modelling indicates that the Precinct could increase Western Australia’s food and beverage sector output between one and three per cent in the first five years of operation.
This equates to between 17 and 51 new food businesses delivering benefits to the state’s economy, including growth in its food and beverage sector output by between $110M and $330M.
While physically located in the Peel region, a hub-and-spoke model will be established and digital infrastructure will be used to connect and engage with other agri-food regions.
The occasion was marked on Thursday 20 May during a sod turning event held on site at the Shire of Murray’s Western Australian Food Innovation Precinct at Peel Business Park in Nambeelup.
Attendees included Assistant Minister for Defence and Federal Member for Canning the Hon. Andrew Hastie MP, Minister for Regional Development, Agriculture and Food the Hon. Alannah MacTiernan MLC, Shire of Murray President Cr. David Bolt, contractors and key project stakeholders.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said The Australian Government has committed $21,750,000 to this project.
“The regional growth fund supports long-term economic growth and create jobs in regions,” Mr McCormack said.
According to Shire President Cr. David Bolt, the state-of-the-art facility has been designed to inspire Western Australian growers and producers, to build a robust and vibrant food and beverage manufacturing sector.
“The Precinct will be a place where small-to-medium enterprises, research and development institutions, wider industry players including international agri-innovation firms and government entities can test, research and develop their products for market,” Cr. Bolt said.
“The Precinct will explore the creation of a unique brand, trademark and relevant industry certification, which will draw activity to become the one-stop shop for the agri-food community in Western Australia.”