New research hub to transform food industry’s relationship with ASEAN consumer

March 16 / 177

The University and Mondelez International have launched “Unlocking the Food Value Chain: Australian Food Industry Transformation for ASEAN Markets,” an ARC-funded research hub which will gain insights into Asian consumer behaviour and market levers, and inform innovation in ingredient use, consumer experience and product design and packaging. 

The $10 million collaborative research hub includes $2 million funding from the Australian Research Council (ARC) under the Industrial Transformation Research Programme (ITRP).

Its six research streams focus on developing insights into ASEAN markets and consumers, advanced packaging and presentation of food and efficient supply chain management.

The streams draw on the expertise of researchers from the faculties of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences; Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences; Science; Business and Economics; the School of Engineering and Swinburne University of Technology. Mondelez International contributes extensive research and marketing experience in the Southeast Asian region to each of the streams.

Mondelez International and the University have committed to share research outcomes with small and medium-sized businesses and the wider sector through an open innovation model.

Hub Director Frank Dunshea said the development of the Unlocking the Food Value Chain hub had been guided by the needs of industry.

“The Australian food industry is driven by innovation – in how we target consumers, in the products we create, in how we market and deliver them,” he said. 

“Businesses exporting to Southeast Asia need to understand their market and how they can deliver the best possible product at competitive prices. This hub provides services which will enable Australian businesses to do so.”

ARC CEO Aidan Byrne attended the launch of the Research Hub and said he was left inspired by his visit.

“I was very impressed with the integration both between different universities and the diverse faculties within universities,” Professor Byrne said. 

“The Industrial Transformation Research Program is designed to bring minds from many and varied fields – academia and industry – together to solve critical industry problems, and I can see that there is already some great collaborative work underway within this ARC Research Hub to achieve that goal.”

Jim McCluskey, University of Melbourne Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), said the hub had great potential to deliver exceptional outcomes for Australia’s food manufacturing industry.

“I am confident this research hub will help fulfil that potential and bring great results, both in maximising Australia’s high-quality food exports, and supporting the future food consumers of our ASEAN neighbours,” Professor McCluskey said.

“We are especially grateful to Mondelez for partnering with us in this major research effort, as an example of academia and industry working side by side toward important national goals.”

Mondelez International chocolate research director Nicholas Georges said the hub aimed to combine university research with industry business acumen. 

“The early signs of this research, in a small yet convincing way, show we can compete on the world class stage by leveraging the best we have to offer – talent and technology creation on one hand, consumer understanding and commercial opportunity on the other.

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