Collaborating from paddock to plate to deliver value

Established in 1971 on the black soil plains of Moree in New South Wales, Austgrains is a leading supplier of non-GMO seeds, grains and wholegrain food ingredients to service a diverse range of product categories. Over the last five decades, Austgrains has evolved alongside the continually changing trends, consumer preferences and advancements within the agricultural and food manufacturing industries.

Today, the company is focused on assisting food manufacturers to differentiate their brands and to enable customers to tell the whole story behind the food manufacturing process. This has been realised through the strengthening of its traceability, food safety and provenance programs. A collaborative approach to supply chain integration and the early adoption of innovation is key to Austgrains’ business.

According to Thomas Hannam (Austgrains), “Since its establishment, Austgrains has continued to evolve, with the philosophy of meeting the needs of the ‘next generation’, which is an integral part of our forward-thinking approach. This enables us to embrace change, and to keep abreast of future food trends and agronomic requirements.”

“Effectively, our mandate is to commercialise and supply speciality seeds and grains into higher-value food ingredient categories, both domestically and internationally.”

“We work closely with food companies that are looking to create greater brand depth and recognition. This might be achieved through speciality, that is, by supplying the market with something that their competitors are not supplying or through improved functionality, ingredient quality, or through food provenance. These considerations are vital in today’s marketplace where consumers not only want assurances that the food they’re buying is safe, they also want to understand where their food is coming from and whether it’s good for them,” said Hannam.

Transforming quality assurance

To support their customers, Austgrains transformed their existing quality assurance system from an early forecasting tool that managed supply and demand into a full traceability and real-time ‘farm to factory’ information system: the FMQ System.

“We invested heavily in supply chain management, particularly in our FMQ system. FMQ is the interface between our customers and our growers. It integrates and centralises all the relevant elements of the supply chain. This allows us to support our customers in achieving higher product quality, reducing waste, and improving efficiencies,” said Hannam.

“The data captured by FMQ is assisting improvement to our farming practices and their sustainability and to create a higher quality manufactured product. For instance, collaborating with farmers on alternative cropping rotations or expanding into different production zones can result in increased grain yields, higher-quality production or open new markets. By working closely with all members of the supply chain to share real-time data and ideas, we are able to create value.”

Competing on value, not cost

Through its FMQ system, Austgrains has been able to consistently meet the rising standards of industry best practice and evolve within the rapidly changing landscape of food manufacturing. As a result, Austgrains is able to help their customers to compete on value, rather than on cost.

“It’s all about transitioning away from a commodity mentality towards speciality or something different,” explained Hannam. “With a commodity mentality, the key differentiator is price. In a speciality supply chain, it’s all about working together to deliver value in a number of ways, whether it’s through adoption of new innovative manufacturing processes or accessing high-quality raw material inputs. That value can be captured in different forms, it could be through brand recognition, improving manufacturing yields or security of supply.”

“Basically, our customers want real-time information so they can make informed decisions that work for them. If they are going to market a brand focused on a specialised product, then they need to have consistent, homogeneous supply of raw materials to remove variability from their supply chain.”

Collaboration from paddock to plate

Austgrains’ FMQ system has improved communication and visibility between its supply chain partners both upstream and downstream. Providing growers with the knowledge of how their products are being used is empowering and has strengthened relationships.

“We are working in a global market, which means we must foster our domestic advantage in order to protect our competitive edge. Collaboration across the supply chain to advance ideas and drive creativity in manufacturing design, techniques and engagement will only contribute to building long-term competitive advantages for the industry,” said Hannam.