MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA — Building a competitive supply chain, improving transport infrastructure and meeting customer demands emerged as key themes on the final day of the Australian Grains Industry Conference (AGIC) that was July 28-29 in Melbourne, Australia.

Luke Fraser of Juturna Infrastructure identified a need to reform Australia’s transport network to achieve better returns for the grains industry right along the supply chain.

“Every other major grain-producing country has an intercontinental rail line which directs products to one or two major ports, whereas Australia has multiple branch lines and ports, missing out on economies of scale,” Fraser said. “Roads are funded in parallel to rail which leads to competition, making rail even less cost-effective.”

GrainCorp’s Matthew Warrington echoed the need for infrastructure reform and provided delegates with an overview of Project Regeneration which aims to reduce rail costs by A$5 per tonne and return one million tonnes of grain back to the rail network.

In a session on innovation in marketing, delegates were told the ‘trends’ of gluten-free and organic are here to stay, while the move to grain-based proteins was also gaining ground.

End-users noted the high cost of inputs and called for stronger partnerships with grain growers to take some of the volatility out of prices for both industries.

Roger Campbell of the Pork CRC predicted the future upside for grain prices will be created in part by growing demand for animal proteins, with a need for better yields as well as better feed conversion to drive productivity in both industries in the longer term.

Conference organizer Rosemary Richards was delighted with the new two-day conference format which attracted a record 960 registrations.

“Around 10% of delegates came from overseas, especially China. I think this is a testament to the demand for Australian grain in Asia and the number of investors looking for partnerships and other opportunities in Australia,” Richards said.

The Conference is hosted by Grain Trade Australia (GTA), the Australian Oilseeds Federation (AOF) and Pulse Australia.