Australian food and beverage producers and exporters have faced a lot of uncertainties from Covid and extreme weather events, but it is not all bad news, says Rhys Williamson, co-founder of authentication and customer insights platform Orijin Plus.
According to ABARES’s Economic Outlook for the March quarter, transport and labour were most affected by the pandemic, climate and geopolitical instabilities.
Demand for transport has remained high, forcing up costs and extending shipping times, while the absence of labour forces also impacted the supply of raw materials.
But global food security concerns drive overseas demand for Australian food and beverage products with their promise of high quality, clean and green credentials.
A recent Australia-Korea Business Council report identified food and beverage as one of six priority areas of potential for exporters.
Korea is one of several Asian nations we have favourable trade agreements with, as well as continued growth in demand for premium Australian food and beverage products.
But discerning consumers in markets such as Singapore are now looking for more than a Made in Australia stamp.
Covid has people focusing far more on their health and what they are putting into their bodies. It doesn’t mean everyone is turning to organic and plant-based diets, but it does mean they want to understand where the food and drink they are consuming originates from, how it is handled through each step of the supply chain and whether it legitimately is what it claims to be.
With growing demand comes the increased risk of food fraud. The need for accurate traceability from end consumer back to the source was the catalyst for us to develop a system that uses blockchain technology to identify a product’s journey through each stage of the supply chain.
Its novel technology then entices and rewards customers to contribute to the integrity system by removing the product from the supply chain, eradicating food fraud opportunities.
To encourage consumers to do their part and complete that final stage, we associated the step with a loyalty program, which rewarded customers with points that can be used to redeem exclusive gifts and experiences.
When used in China, the Orijin Plus loyalty platform had an immediate effect, doubling the repeat buyers and resulting in more loyal and sticky customers. We’re in the process of building a portfolio of premium brands to collectively leverage the benefits of the Orijin Plus platform.
Essentially, it is creating an ecosystem of food and beverage items that address specific consumer preferences and where to buy them. The multi-brand loyalty platform enables brand collaboration at a scale never seen before.
Producers and brands using the platform can interact with their end consumers and create a direct relationship. The access to the end consumer unlocks insights into purchasing habits and remarketing opportunities, which is unique when it comes to exporting produce.
While a manufacturer might have a very clear view of the path their ingredients have taken to reach them and where it goes once it leaves their facility, that has typically been where the story ends.
What follows is a series of untraceable steps before it lands on retail shelves. We are filling in those gaps.
The great reset
As global demand and competition increases, brands need to understand their markets to retain customer connection and loyalty, product authenticity, and to remain competitive.
In many ways, the pandemic has created a great reset point for Australian exporters of quality food and beverage products.
But just as Australian producers are telling their stories of clean, green provenance, so are those in New Zealand, Canada, and many other parts of the world.
Having validated the Orijin Plus technology with an Australian brand in China, we are building the brand ecosystem for the Singapore market and will launch later this year with multiple brands. We are also taking expressions of interest from product suppliers targeting other overseas destinations.
There’s a small window of opportunity for brands to grab their share of the overseas market now before others beat them to it.
This article first appeared in the April 2022 edition of Food & Drink Business.