Australian food going back to the future

Matt Coughlan
(Australian Associated Press)


Fire up the DeLorean, it’s time to go to the greengrocer, butcher, baker and fishmonger on a virtual back-to-the-future shopping trip.

That’s the vision for the nation’s food consumption as outlined at the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resources Economics’ Outlook conference in Canberra on Tuesday.

KPMG’s global head of agribusiness Ian Proudfoot believes people will increasingly revert to individual food suppliers which they’ll access through apps in the next 10 to 15 years.

“We’ll go back to the future where people will buy from a greengrocer, a baker, fishmonger and butcher – all the different suppliers – but they won’t physically go around to those shops,” Mr Proudfoot told the ABARES conference.

There’ll also be scope for people to look at where their food is produced up close, but not necessarily personally.

“We can put any consumer anywhere in the world in the centre of any farm using virtual reality,” Mr Proudfoot said.

While farmers are facing growing challenges from technologies which can manufacture food in petri dishes rather than paddocks, unprecedented opportunities to engage with customers are emerging.

Mr Proudfoot said machines which create beef from cell technology could one day sit alongside coffee makers on benchtops, as food trends compete into the future,

With a range of ethical, social and health concerns driving consumer choices, building trust between farmers and customers is becoming increasingly important.

“We need to go back to transparency and trust,” University of Adelaide associate professor Rachel Ankeny said.

Blockchain, the technology behind cryptocurrency, is also emerging as a tool for farmers, commodity buyers and consumers.

AgriDigital is a ledger using Blockchain which creates a tamper-proof record of transactions.

“The fact we can use Blockchain to do real-time exchange of currency as well as assets is quite transformative,” AgriDigital co-founder and chief executive Emma Weston said.

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