Opportunities for Western Australia to supercharge its food industry for health, export and quality were explored in a major symposium hosted by Murdoch University in the Peel District.
The symposium drew together leading academic and industry professionals to discuss opportunities in WA to transform more ingredients into value-added food for export markets, particularly Asia.
Murdoch University Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor David Morrison said the forum marked the start of an exciting new future for WA food.
“Our State produces some exceptional and unique ingredients grown under the best of conditions,” Professor Morrison said.
“However, we are missing huge opportunities, with an estimated 86 per cent of these raw products leaving WA untransformed in any way.
“The forum is part of Murdoch University’s support for the development of the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Future Food Systems. It was designed to introduce industry to the research goals of the CRC (currently bidding in Round 20) and to showcase how this dovetails with Murdoch’s larger food research and teaching strategy.”
Professor Morrison said almost 20,000 Western Australians are employed in around 1,200 local food and beverage businesses, equating to approximately 54 per cent of the State’s manufacturing industry.
“We are missing out on untapped opportunities to make our home-grown food some of the most highly sought after products in the world, driving up our export prices and helping to develop new industry in WA."
Murdoch University Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor David Morrison
Representatives from the beef, lamb and truffle industry presented work underway to better understand differing taste preferences in Asia and Europe, and technologists presented exciting advances increasing shelf life, provenance and traceability.
Personalised nutrition will combat disease
The forum also discussed the key role that personalised nutrition will play in combatting disease, diabetes, and chronic ill health in the future.
Murdoch University’s Pro Vice Chancellor of Health Sciences, Professor Jeremy Nicholson gave an insight into the future work of the Australian National Phenome Centre, a revolutionary research centre tackling some of the major challenges facing human health.
“Through metabolic phenotyping we can understand how food can act differently in each individual, and use this information to develop personalised nutrition to reduce disease risk,” Professor Nicholson said.
“We can also track the metabolic signature of ingredients to provide evidence of provenance or contamination of foods, which is vital for Australia’s export market.”
The event concluded with chef Mark Woodcock presenting a variety of dishes that demonstrated how local ingredients can be transformed into high value products.
Chef Woodcock emphasised Asian flavours paired with local ingredients, particularly those imparted via fermentation with Koji (Aspergillus oryzae) for forum participants to sample.