AARES 2018 Pre-conference workshops wrap-up and networking

Water, Climate, Food, Wine and Risk!

Industry academic session

These were the key topics discussed at the pre-conference workshops and the industry forum session in the lead up to the Australasian Agriculture and Resource Economics Society (AARES) 62nd Annual Conference that kicks off today.

In the pre-conference workshops, there was discussion on globalization of wine markets and its implications on the new world producers like Australia and the understanding of consumer behaviour dynamics. Prof. Kym Anderson of University of Adelaide moderated the wine globalization workshop.

The energy security workshop involved discussions on the current issues around the energy crisis in South Australia and the state’s investments in sustainable energy resources like solar powered batteries. Prof. Lin Crase from the University of South Australia moderated this workshop.

The risk management workshop moderated by Dr. Malcolm Wagener talked farm risk management through insurance, as well as investigating financial foreign investment in Australian agriculture. Particularly, insurances with premiums and indemnities based on historic farm production data are most common. The workshop discussed the impact of moral hazard and adverse selection for multi-peril crop insurance, drawing on lessons learned from case studies in the USA, Canada and Australia. The take home message was that, apart from recently budding commercial products in Canada and Australia, multi-peril crop insurance cannot be offered competitively without extensive government subsidies

Australasian Agriculture and Resource Economics Society (AARES) in collaboration with the Centre for Global Food and Resources (GFAR) organised a special industry – academic discussion forum to invited members of the peak industry body, Food South Australia. CEO of Food SA, Catherine Sayer and Karen McNaughton, Food Industry Case Manager, South Australian Food Innovation Centre opened the event. The objective of the forum was to initiate engagement between industry and academia through the conference platform to explore opportunities of collaboration and understand expert’s views on innovative business models. The expert panel was moderated by GFAR Executive Director, Prof. Wendy Umberger and featured Prof. Tom Reardon (University of Adelaide Adjunct Professor), Prof. Ed McLaughlin, Prof. Kynda Curtis, Prof. Kym Anderson and Prof. Dawn Thilmany.

Prof. Ed McLaughlin highlighted the need for retailers to understand supply chains. He spoke about the Food Executive Program for food retailers at Cornell University, which helps the retailers, links the producers and allows sharing of information. Some of the key issues that producers need to be wary about in the future according to Prof. McLaughlin are rapid rise of discount retail, rise of e-commerce in food systems and the dominance of retailers like Walmart. Prof. Tom Reardon spoke about his experience in international development and agribusiness. His work on understanding food system transformation involves extensive surveys to identify the implications for farmers, consumers and more importantly, industry. He stressed the importance of the Asian market for Australian producers where two-thirds of food purchased is processed food. He narrated his experiences of working with leading procurement companies and shared some interesting anecdotes of the internal workings of such organisations.

Prof. Kynda Curtis and Prof. Dawn Thilmany spoke about promoting provenance and regional food tourism. They emphasized the importance of diversifying products and highlighted the provenance pathways (telling the stories that go behind creation of a product) as a way into the consumer’s heart. Prof. Dawn Thilmany highlighted the importance of businesses being able to pivot quickly to explore entrepreneurial models. Adding to this, Prof. Kym Anderson spoke about agriculture and the aspects of trade and exchange rates and the impact on the economy.

The final event of the day was the ‘Early Career Professionals’ night. This event allows early career professionals to interact with established researchers and understand the challenges and pitfalls of a career in agricultural research and development.

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Blog prepared by Rohan Yargop.

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