Tassie’s competitive food advantages on show University of Tasmania November 18, 2014 Featured, UTAS Tasmania’s competitive advantage as a producer of quality food attracted great interest from the 100 plus Chinese TasInvest delegates who toured the state this week. Director of the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA) (a joint venture between the University of Tasmania and the Tasmanian Government) was invited to speak to the delegates, including eight representatives from Chinese Fortune 500 companies, about the state’s successful and rapidly growing dairy industry. “There is increasing demand from Chinese consumers for high quality and safe food and Tasmania has an opportunity to be part of this,” Professor Holger Meinke told the delegates. “The Chinese milk and infant formula food safety incident in 2008 was a game changer for the country and consumers became concerned about the safety of local infant formula. “This resulted in a huge increase in the purchasing of imported formula. “Both Chinese and Australian consumers are increasingly interested in the ‘story of food’. “Modern consumers want to be part of the ‘food experience’. “They are taking an interest in how their food is produced, who produces it and who benefits along the value chain. “Modern consumers want to be assured that the food they consume is aligned with their values and their idea of a ‘quality’ product. “Increasingly this also includes issues of sustainability.” With a free trade agreement between Australia and China signed this week, Tasmania stands to benefit in the long-term with increased opportunities to supply to niche dairy markets. “We now have the technology to enable individual food items to be traced right back through the value chain to the source, which provides consumers peace of mind that they know where their food is coming from,” Professor Meinke said. “A simple scan of a QR code with a mobile phone can connect anybody directly with the source of their meal, regardless of how complex the value chain is. Traceability makes quality not only desirable, but also enforceable. Facebook, Twitter or Weibo can add the personal touch to the food experience. “Dairy is the largest agricultural sector in Tasmania and is one of those best placed to take advantage of this technology. “Dairy constitutes 36 per cent of the gross value of pre-farm gate agriculture in the state, and is predicted to continue growing due to its competitive advantages. “Our climate and soils are ideally suited for high-quality, productive pastures and northern Tasmania is amongst the best places in the world to grow high-quality grass at low cost. “TIA will continue to support the state’s agricultural industries with cutting edge research, extension and education to help the state realise its full potential from new international market opportunities such as with China.” TIA and the University of Tasmania’s School of Land and Food trains tomorrow’s viticulturists, microbiologists, animal nutritionists, overseas development workers, plant breeders, soil scientists, forensic entomologists, sustainability resource managers and many more agrifood specialities. If you’re hungry for success and a secure career, study agriculture through our Bachelor of Agricultural Science and Bachelor of Agriculture degrees.