Australia's "guilt-free" food future
The coming Australian food revolution is all about one-stop, guilt-free indulgence, say the researchers who are already hard at work designing it.
Health, convenience and enjoyment are the main consumer drivers behind sweeping changes in the healthiness, composition, flavor and quality of foods grown and produced in Australia.
Spearheading the new trend is a $20m research partnership, the Food Futures National Research Flagship, which is applying cutting-edge science to key points in the food chain.
The Food Futures Flagship was launched last week at the Outlook 2004 Conference in Canberra by the Minister for Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry, Hon. Warren Truss, and the Minister for Science, Hon Peter McGauran.
It is the fourth National Research Flagship to be launched in the past eight months, maintaining momentum in this major Australian research program.
Food Futures is using frontier technologies (like proteomics, genomics, biosensors and bioactives) to transform strategic spots in the food chain, including the development of new aquaculture breeding systems.
"Today the consumer is king as far as food is concerned, and Food Futures is also focusing major effort on finding out exactly what consumers want and don't want in the way of foods, flavours and health requirements. We intend to make sure our products will match their needs and preferences", Flagship director Dr Bruce Lee explains.
"We know most people want healthier foods that will help reduce their risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, overweight and other chronic conditions - but at the same time they want food to be delicious, safe and easy to prepare.
"We're using the latest science to create new foods and diets that will meet all these needs. If people can eat food they know is doing them good and still find it delicious, it will help alleviate the guilt we all sometimes feel about enjoying Australia's great food."
Food Futures covers the entire food supply chain. It links scientific research with farmers, governments and the food industry. It works with bodies like the Grains R&D Corporation, the Dairy R&D Corporation, the Fisheries R&D Corporation and the Grape & Wine R&D Corporation.
In aquaculture, the aim is to develop high-performance, high-quality breeds and sustainable production systems for the Australian prawn, salmon and abalone aquaculture industries.
The benefits to Australia will include increased exports, healthier and safer food, improved farm profitability, revitalised rural communities, increased employment and lower national healthcare costs, Dr Lee says.
"Our overall goal is to transform the international competitiveness and add $3 billion a year in value to Australian farm and food products within a decade," he says.
The National Research Flagships will deliver benefits in fields as diverse as healthcare, food, the environment, light metals, oceans, energy and communication and are aligned with the Federal Government's National Research Priorities.