In a landmark announcement the Australian National Farmers’​ Federation and NSW Farmers have united with Food Frontier to launch a “new national Future of Protein Forum that brings together traditional livestock, plant, and alternative protein producers to meet the projected demand for Australian protein.”

Why is this so important?

I’ve long said that Australia needs to get behind alternative meat and dairy products to ensure a future for our AgriFood industries, and indeed the same logic applies to New Zealand. Now Australian farmers have the opportunity to take advantage of the almost infinite possibilities of alternative protein products. These products are coming whether Australia or NZ likes it or not. What if another country aggressively pursues these technologies? Since some of these technologies don’t require arable land or much fresh water it’s possible that, say, Saudi Arabia could become the world’s leading supplier of ground meat. Then where does that leave the conventional industry and our economies? We need to pursue multiple technologies including conventional, cell and plantbased products to ensure a future for our agricultural industries.

Will pragmatism or politics rule the day?

The release also says that we need to ensure “that policy and regulatory settings are in place to encourage production and manufacturing in Australia”. These government policies and regulations will be critical to the future of the sector. Have we seen the end of turf wars over terms like “sausage” and “milk”? I sincerely hope so as these simply divert valuable resources away from the main game, growing the Future of Food.

I’m looking forward to the first meeting of the Future of Protein Forum and adding value to this vitally important discussion.

As I said at evokeAG earlier this year, whatever the Future of Food holds, farmers are the answer.