The Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of WA (CCI) will jointly fund a project to provide communication, policy development and support services for the State's food industry to the tune of $500,000 over three years.
Agriculture and Food Minister Terry Redman made the announcement last Tuesday, saying WA had always been good at growing food but could do more to add value to its produce.
The partnership is believed to be the first of its kind in the country and is set to focus on the food industry planning and sharing of market intelligence and developing collaborative projects to support innovation in the food sector.
Mr Redman said taking advantage of export market opportunities in Asia would be a key part of developing the State's food manufacturing businesses.
"This partnership will combine DAFWA's agricultural and food expertise with the CCI's business expertise to make the agriculture and food industry more profitable," he said.
"Innovation will be vital to drive a successful future for value-added WA food, from technical changes in manufacturing to changing business management needs.
"There is significant opportunity for growth within the sector and when we can add value it helps to keep jobs and opportunities in WA."
Mr Redman said the new link was founded after the collapse of the Food Industry Association in October 2011. The CCI stepped in to fill the representative role on a trial basis at that time.
"The trial was a fantastic example of how economic development can work when you pull together the necessary partners to make things happen," Mr Redman said.
"CCI bought value-adding capacity and business acumen to the table coupled with DAFWA's technical skills within the food production industry."
When asked what kind of direct outcomes WA's grain, beef and sheep meat producers could expect from the project, Mr Redman said it would indirectly benefit the whole of supply chain.
"More farm produce into the value-adding space will always be ultimately better for growers whether they are broadacre producers, dairy or honey producers," he said.
CCI chief executive officer James Pearson believed CCI's presence within the partnership would complement DAFWA's "unparalleled knowledge" of the agricultural sector and said food processing was sometimes ignored when looking at the challenges of manufacturing goods in WA.
"The new partnership isn't without risk for the CCI and DAFWA," he said.
"The CCI is a proud and sometimes fiercely independent body and will retain the right to criticise government policy, including in this sector if we don't feel it's right for our members and their businesses."
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