Producers must think differently to meet global food demand, an international agrifood conference has been told.
After a three-year hiatus due to COVID-19, the evokeAg industry event reopened its doors in Adelaide on Tuesday.
In his keynote address, American tech investor Scott Amyx said Australia is a global leader in exponential technologies.
“Australia naturally has a maverick mindset, with limited resources they’ve had to think outside of the box,” Mr Amyx said.
The venture capitalist said the next industrial revolution will revolve around space and unlock massive opportunities for producers.
He told the 1600 conference delegates that if you can grow plants in space, then the opportunities are “limitless”.
“Deep space harbours some of the harshest conditions for agriculture, harmful radiation, that can damage the plant.”
Synthetic milk being developed by Australian company Eden Brew was highlighted as one example of dairy farmers trying to address the world’s food challenges.
Eden Brew boss Jim Fader said his company’s animal-free milk will not only taste the same but also cost the same as the real thing.
The firm is currently testing the scientific formula and plans to have its first product to market by mid-2024.
“We have never as a food system faced in a 30-year period the forecast doubling of protein demand,” Mr Fader said on Tuesday.
“And so we absolutely must find new and innovative and resource-savvy ways to meet that demand, because you don’t have two planets to feed the world’s population.”
Eden Brew is backed by dairy co-operative Norco in what’s previously been described as an “unholy alliance”.
But Norco boss Michael Hampson said the partnership had provided a huge boost to the co-op, allowing the company to tap into non-dairy markets.
“At the moment about 40 per cent of our customers also pick up a non-dairy product in the supermarket aisle,” he told AAP.
The global market for alternative milk has been valued at up to $2 trillion.
The dairy boss said part of the challenge is servicing the increasing demand for milk in the face of a diminishing supply.
Mr Hampson said most dairy companies have protein and plant-based divisions, and rejects the notion that producing milk without cows will put an end to the dairy farm.
“People buy our product because they want to support farmers and they love traditional milk,” the dairy boss said.
(Australian Associated Press)