Growing food and fibre markets

The program

Growing Food and Fibre Markets (GFFM) is an $8 million program. It is aimed at helping producers, industry and the whole supply chain build 'paddock to port' capability and:

  • better capture export market opportunities
  • strengthen biosecurity and food safety capability, focusing on product assurance and integrity systems
  • expand Victoria’s global agri-food trade footprint
  • build upon our reputation as an exporter of premium quality food and fibre products.

The program has four key themes that guide individual projects:

  • Growing export ready Victorian industries – Growing export ready Victorian industries will be achieved through supporting and building the capability of the agriculture, food and fibre sector to understand markets and supply chains to deliver high-quality food and fibre products to international markets.
  • Keeping ahead of the game with market access – To remain competitive in a changing global climate, Victoria must maximise export opportunities. This will be achieved by driving growth through innovation, using new and emerging technologies and technical production methods to provide products that are safe, fresh, high-quality and meet international market requirements and export needs of the future.
  • Next generation market access technology – Supporting the Victorian food and fibre sector to take advantage of new, innovative diagnostic and verification technologies and new sensor application to give importing countries assurance about treatment efficacy and product quality.
  • Broadening traceability – Exploring opportunities to strengthen the application and value of traceability across supply chains.

Growing food and fibre markets projects

Individual projects are designed to meet the program objectives. We are implementing these projects in collaboration with:

  • Commonwealth and state governments
  • industry associations
  • Victorian food and fibre producers.

A new approach to fruit fly management

Australian horticulture needs more flexible approaches to create verifiable pest-free produce for export without relying the application of end-point treatments that can reduce product quality.

This project is trialling a 'systems approach' to managing Queensland fruit fly. Evidence will be gathered to provide a strong scientific basis for the adoption of this approach — both domestically and internationally.

This project is being implemented in partnership with CSIRO and other state governments.

X-ray treatment for quality exports

X-ray technology is an effective treatment for pathogens and pests in food and fibre produce.

Treated produce:

  • is safe for consumption
  • has a longer shelf life
  • results in greater compliance
  • lowers the risk of produce being held at the border.

Some key trading partners have approved x-ray as a treatment for Queensland Fruit Fly in selected horticulture products, such as cherries. However, broader acceptance of the treatment is yet to be achieved.

This project aims to facilitate uptake and acceptance of X-ray irradiation for Victorian exported horticulture and potentially other agricultural industries.

Broadening traceability for exports

Improved traceability provides export assurance to trading partners. It also allows targeted intervention where incidents occur in the export pathway.

Strengthened traceability systems for Victorian agriculture can improve our ability to respond to biosecurity and food safety incidents and reinforce our competitiveness in international markets.

This project will explore opportunities to strengthen the application and value of traceability across supply chains.

Citrus Traceability Pilot

Traceability is an emerging capability in food supply chains that can provide assurances to consumers about how and where their food is produced.

In the same way that consumers want more information about where their food has come from, growers want more information about where their food is going. Growers invest time and money into developing premium varieties and traceability can help protect that investment.

The Citrus Traceability Pilot report provides information on the purpose of the trial and showcase traceability opportunities to all Australian horticulture industries.

Citrus Traceability Pilot report (PDF - 2.9 MB)

Citrus Traceability Pilot report (WORD - 2.3 MB)

Watch these videos to see the benefits of traceability in action, trialling innovative traceability technologies including labelling and blockchain, along the citrus supply chain.

[Vision of a farmer walking through an orange orchard inspecting oranges]

[Vision of lady in a supermarket browsing oranges]

Narrator: Globally, consumers are demanding more information on how and where their food is produced.

Through traceability, we have an opportunity to meet these demands and strengthen our reputation as world leading producers of premium food and fiber products.

Traceability is the ability to follow the movement of a product, through the stages of production, processing and distribution, or in everyday terms, the story of food from tree to table.

[Vision of an orange orchard]

To demonstrate the benefits of traceability in action, Agriculture Victoria is partnering with Citrus Australia to trial traceability along the citrus supply chain.

Nathan Hancock – CEO, Citrus Australia: "Citrus Australia has partnered with Agriculture Victoria to bring a number of businesses into the project.

They include growers and packers in the supply chain but also some innovative technologies.

The citrus industry relies on its quality and the safety of the product that we produce here in Australia.

We have a premium product in our export markets and we need to be able to prove to our end supplier the origin of our product."

[Vision of a farmer using a mobile device]

Narrator: Traceability helps manage biosecurity and food safety risks, proves country of origin, reduces incidences of food fraud, and supports market access.

Many food and fibre businesses already use traceability systems to track production and to make sure they're meeting importing country requirements and customer standards.

But new technologies are being developed every day.

Gavin Ger – Joint CEO, Laava: "Labeling and packaging is really important for consumers because they want to understand what's in their product, how it got to them, that it's safe, and they want to learn more about their brands.

Laava has invented the Laava Smart Fingerprint, which is a unique serialized identifier that goes on products.

Laava allows consumers to authenticate the products that they buy, to learn more about their products and to engage deeper with the brands that made them.

Consumers can simply just use any smartphone.

There's no app for them to download. They simply scan the label, they can see the journey that it's been on through the Trust Provenance blockchain, they can unlock special offers that might be available to that retailer, they can see complimentary products, they can follow up on social media, pretty much anything that a brand wants to tell about the product."

Andrew Grant – CEO, Trust Provenance: "The benefits of blockchain in traceability is that any data point that is stored on the blockchain cannot be changed.

By having a blockchain-based traceability system and bringing all these data sets together to the one platform, enables a number of business efficiencies.

So whether it be product control, product recall, product safety, product positioning, engaging with the consumer, and ultimately managing your supply chain more efficiently.

Ultimately, that brings a fresher product and a better quality product through to the consumer."

[Vision of an infographic representing the supply chain]

"For this commercial pilot project, we'll be integrating data points from the grower.

The pack shed, the logistics company, the food safety certification body and from data loggers which have got GPS and temperature data points throughout the journey."

Narrator: These innovative technologies can help increase efficiencies across supply chains and give international consumers confidence, they're buying authentic Australian-grown produce.

Matthew Cottrell – General Manager, Nu Leaf: "By using the digital fingerprint labeling on our packaging and blockchain, it'll help us protect our brands and also will allow the customer to directly access proof of origin and also the features of our fruit.

For consumers, it also helps give confidence that they are buying a premium variety with the features that they desire."

Narrator: This part will support the future growth of exports and food production in Victoria.

Speaker 1:

To demonstrate the benefits of traceability in action, Agriculture Victoria is partnering with Citrus Australia to trial traceability along the citrus supply chain.

Matthew Cottrell:

Traceability's important to our business. It helps us to manage our varieties, ensuring only genuine product ends up in the brands. Growers spend a lot of money investing in these premium varieties, and traceability helps protect that investment.

Speaker 1:

Traceability helps deliver premium quality fruit right through the supply chain.

Nathan Hancock:

The citrus industry is about 26,000 hectares. We annually produce over 750,000 tons of citrus. And last year we eclipsed the $500 million mark in exports, which was really important. Out of the Victoria region, we exported $160 million worth of citrus, which is about 104,000 tons.

Speaker 1:

Traceability increases supply chain efficiencies by tracking features such as temperature and storage times and certifications for food safety and export market access. Mildura Fruit Company is taking part in this trial to help their customers feel confident that the fruit they are buying is a genuine product.

Perry Hill:

Mildura Fruit Company is a very large packer and exporter of citrus from Australia. We source fruit from about 140 growers in the Murray Valley region of Southern Australia, and we ship around the world. About 75, 80% of our fruit is shipped offshore to about 30 countries. In a typical season, we will pack about 90 million kilos of fruit. So it's very important to understand where that fruit comes from and where it goes.

Perry Hill:

As part of the trial to supplement our existing systems, we are applying a digital fingerprint to various pack items. We can then link that into our system and track that through to the end consumer.

Speaker 1:

The Laava Digital Fingerprint labeling enables consumers to check the product is genuine, and the Trust Provenance blockchain demonstrates the fruit's journey. Strong traceability can protect the reputation of all businesses along the supply chain.

Matthew Cottrell:

For consumers, it also helps give confidence that they are buying a premium variety with the features that they desire.

Perry Hill:

Our customers like a good tasting piece of fruit, premium quality, and they also like it to be safe. The true benefits are shown when this fruit arrives overseas. But certainly, this technology will enable us to satisfy customers that the product that they are receiving has come from a reliable source.

Exercise Ancestree

To identify deficits in traceability within the horticulture sector and determine potential improvements for biosecurity incursion events, Agriculture Victoria undertook a traceability review, ‘Exercise Ancestree’, in partnership with the citrus and nursery industries and various commonwealth, state and territory jurisdictions. Read about the recommendations and opportunities for development of a contemporary approach to biosecurity regulation in the report.

Exercise Ancestree report (PDF - 2.2 MB)

Exercise Ancestree report (WORD - 1.8 MB)

Strengthening food safety assurances for exports

Food safety is the primary focus of all market access. Horticulture has historically been viewed as a low food safety risk because of the production systems.

Due to recent increases in incidents of foodborne illness outbreaks from contaminated horticultural produce, international trading partners are requiring more stringent food safety assurances.

This project is considering the changing risk profile of horticulture production. It aims to influence national systems to:

  • appropriately manage risks
  • increase industry awareness of food safety
  • explore new ways of understanding technological options for management.

Chemical use for market access

For Victorian produce to be accepted by an international trading partner, it must meet incoming country requirements such as Maximum Residue Limits (MRL).

Each country sets their own MRLs which can be different to Australia’s MRL levels. Trade disruptions can occur when non-compliance with MRLs is detected. This project aims to improve producer, agronomist and industry awareness of international MRLs and how to avoid exceeding them.

This involves working with industry and producers to gain an understanding of existing chemical management practices. Guidance will be developed to support the industry with chemical management decisions for export quality goods into the future.

Understanding product attributes relevant to international markets

Globally, consumers are increasingly seeking assurances that their food is produced with  attributes, such as organic or halal.

The project will investigate these product attributes, to improve understanding of the requirements to gain international market access.

Premium products

The international food service sector represent significant growth opportunities for Victorian food and fibre exporters. The sector includes:

  • restaurants
  • school and hospital cafeterias
  • catering outlets.

Research and analysis of the global food service market has identified increasing demand for healthy, nutritious food on these menus. This is one of the major factors to positively impact the food service market share.

Through this project, a Premium Food Service Strategy for Victoria will be developed to identify opportunities for strategic investment.

A targeted program of in-market promotions and inbound visits, identified through the strategy, will be delivered in partnership with industry.

Preparing for market disruption

Disruptions to market access can be long or short term, with varying levels of impact. Maintaining and growing international market access is crucial for the ongoing sustainability of Victoria’s food and fibre sector.

The ability to manage and capitalise on these disruptions is vital to remaining competitive in the modern, global trading environment.

This project is investigating gaps in existing preparedness and response activities. It is also investigating how to improve resilience in the Victorian food and fibre export sector.

For further information on the program, please email

Page last updated: 05 Jul 2022