Incitec pivots to flood aid
The fertiliser and explosives giant, which has production operations in Brisbane, will assist Rural Aid and donation service group, GIVIT, also matching employee donations to GIVIT.
The funds will help purchase items and equipment needed by frontline charities, councils and community groups and enable financial and fodder assistance for farmers.
The company has also offered agronomy help and soil testing services for farmers with inundated paddocks and to work with flood impacted fertiliser retailers providing supplies for the recovery effort.
Meanwhile, South African Paul Victor joins Incitec as chief financial officer in July, moving from listed global chemical and energy company Sasol where he has been CFO.
His transition into the new job will be assisted by Chris Opperman who has led the company’s finance functions for six months and who moves to another role in the business later in the year.
Sprout formula for success
Queensland company Sprout Organic is winning accolades after developing what it claims is the world’s first plant-based infant formula made from rice starch.
The vegan-certified line, sourced from Australian ingredients, has just won Best Children’s Product at the World Food Innovation Awards.
While soybeans are a key ingredient in many child nutrition products, for decades the formula industry has been unable to offer a plant-based alternative for young consumers with allergies to legume products.
Soy-based products are also not recommended to infants under six months.
Gold Coast-based Sprout, founded by husband and wife team Sel and Jen Berdie (pictured with their sons), spent seven years developing the line, sourcing organic ingredients to meet Australian infant nutrition standards.
New Noumi CFO
Re-shaped and re-named dairy processor, Noumi (formerly Freedom Foods), is appointing Peter Myers as chief financial officer to replace outgoing Josee Lemoine who joined in late 2020 as part of a massive management shake-up.
She arrived to help after the financially stretched business posted a $174.5 million statutory loss in 2019-20, a 125 per cent blow out in debt to $275m, a trail of unexpected revenue shortfalls and warehouses filled with outdated inventory.
“With the successful completion of the reset phase of Noumi’s strategy, including improvements to the company financial discipline and reporting processes, it is the right time to explore new opportunities,” Ms Lemoine said.
She remains until June 30 in a handover capacity, assisting Mr Myers whose previous experience includes senior executive roles with Billabong International, Amart Furniture, APN Media, Network Ten and Speedcast International.
Southern NSW-based dairy processor, Riverina Fresh, celebrates a century in the milk business this year, marking the milestone with a series of special events at Sydney Royal Show, the Melbourne International Coffee Expo, and the local Wagga Wagga Show.
Founded as the Murrumbidgee Co-operative Dairy Co Ltd in 1922, it still operates from its original site at Wagga’s Hammond Avenue, but in the past decade has expanded operations to Sydney and Melbourne and developed food service links to the specialty coffee and hospitality sectors.
Consumers rated Riverina Fresh as the Best Rated Fresh Milk Brand in Australia at last year’s Finder Retail Awards.
Riverina Fresh milks were also chosen by Australian Barista Champion Hugh Kelly to complement his coffees at the World Barista Championships in Milan in 2021 and will be central to the World Barista Championships in Melbourne in September.
The company sources from about 20 Riverina dairy farmers, selling milk, cream and yoghurt across NSW, Victoria and the ACT.
Cyber security weak link
Professional accounting body CPA Australia is concerned about cyber security implications for the small business sector after its Asia-Pacific Small Business Survey revealed only 35.3 per cent of respondents had reviewed their cyber security in the past six months.
Given the current geopolitical climate, cyber security was an increasing national security issue, with Canberra’s Australian Cyber Security Centre, highlighting how Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine has heightened the likelihood of cyberattacks on Australian businesses.
“Our survey suggests small businesses under-estimate the prevalence of, and are under-prepared for, cyberattacks,” said CPA’s senior business policy manager, Gavan Ord (pictured).
CPA Australia wants major political parties to make a meaningful commitment to small business digital transformation, noting Singapore offered Productivity Solutions Grants to help small to medium-sized enterprises digitalise and automate their processes.
The survey also found local small businesses achieved the lowest rate of growth in the Asia-Pacific in 2021, with only 32.2 per cent of Australian respondents saying their business grew last year, while 35.5pc said they shrank.
Fonterra CFO leaving
Fonterra is seeking a new chief financial officer to replace Marc Rivers who leaves the New Zealand-based dairy co-operative after its annual general meeting at the end of 2022.
Mr Rivers joined Fonterra in 2018 and according to chief executive officer Miles Hurrell played a critical role in “resetting the financial health” of the trans-Tasman co-op.
With Fonterra’s balance sheet now strong and its long-term strategy looking out to 2030, and the co-op’s shareholders supporting a new flexible shareholding restructure, all of which he had been instrumental in making possible, Mr Rivers decided it was a natural point in time for a move.
Mr Hurrell said he had shown a “great sense of responsibility to the farmer owners, unit holders and also NZ’s economy, from day one”.
Bubs moves into A2
Goat milk producer and nutritional formula marketer, Bubs Australia, is poised to enter the A2 beta casein cows’ milk powder business with a new Bubs Supreme infant formula and toddler range.
The new line, to go on sale in Australia in May, builds on the success of Bubs Organic grass-fed formula, which enjoyed 93 per cent domestic gross revenue growth in the first half of this financial year.
“We are confident our entry into the A2 segment will be equally well received and underpin our drive to become a leading challenger infant nutrition brand from Australia,” said company founder and chief executive officer, Kristy Carr.
“We are now able to cater to a more significant share of the addressable infant formula and toddler milk market.”
Both Australian and Chinese parents, who buy nutritional formula products via the daigou channel, told the company a product combining A2 beta-casein protein milk with its super premium formulation would have strong consumer appeal.
Credit for bush education
The credit union industry’s national loan procurement and compliance management arm Mutual Marketplace has teamed up with the not-for-profit Country Education Foundation to help financially support young students and with mentoring, leadership and training opportunities.
The help will focus on increasing regional tertiary student aspirations and fostering community engagement in rural areas.
One of the credit union body’s first contributions to the partnership was to donate refurbished laptops to six students nominated by local foundation branches.
The Country Education Foundation, headquartered in Orange, NSW, raises funds and provides access to support services and resources to help rural and regional youth access education, training and jobs via grants, scholarships and community connections.
Coles nets seafood award
Coles has been named Australia’s Best Sustainable Seafood Supermarket for the sixth consecutive year.
The Marine Stewardship Council’s Sustainable Seafood Awards recognise people and organisations working to help protect seafood sources for future generations.
Coles uses the MSC’s independent third-party certification program to help mitigate potential environmental issues related to fishing, and to maintain traceable certified sourcing for its home brand wild-caught seafood.
Its stores carry 30 products with the official “blue fish tick” logo.
Commercial and express chief executive Greg Davis said supermarket’s home brand MSC certified seafood was the third most popular brand sold in Australia last financial year.
Last year Coles also ranked second out of 62 food retailers globally for sustainable business practices in the World Benchmarking Alliance’s 2021 Food and Agriculture Benchmark.
Biochar research for wine
Griffith University PhD candidate Kate Kingston is the recipient of Wine Australia’s Dr Tony Jordan OAM Award 2022 to support research to develop and apply innovative biochar-based technologies to help the wine sector adapt to the impacts of climate change.
Her research will examine biochar use in combination with the planting of Australian native legume plants to boost soil microbial activity and improve vine health.
Biochar increases soil organic carbon and water and nutrient retention in vineyard soil, helping improve plant resilience to pests, disease, drought, heat and other extreme climatic events.
Ms Kingston’s research will incorporate field and laboratory work in partnership with vineyards from southern Queensland’s Granite Belt.
Nuffield seeks fisher folk
Innovators and leaders in fishing and aquaculture are urged to apply for a Nuffield Scholarship to travel overseas, develop their knowledge and skills, and join a global scholar network.
Applications for a Fisheries and Aquaculture Scholarship, sponsored by Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, are open to members of the commercial fishing and aquaculture, indigenous fishing and recreational fishing sectors, aged between 28 and 45.
The $30,000 scholarship enables a recipient to study a topic important to their industry, including 14 weeks of group and individual travel over two years.
Scholars participate in a six-week group study tour to New Zealand, China, the Americas and Europe to investigate issues related to primary production and experience local cultures.
There are 495 Nuffield scholars in Australia and 1800 worldwide.
Food biotech help
UNSW Founders has launched a new accelerator program focused on fostering Australia’s next generation of startups in Synthetic Biology and Biotech.
SynBio 10x, run in conjunction with the RNA Institute and University of NSW’s School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences, is a national program to provide Australian SynBio startups with capital, scientific infrastructure and networks to accelerate product development and commercialisation.
Main Sequence, CSIRO’s deep tech fund, is also a partner investing $120,000 into each startup accepted into the Accelerator program.
UNSW Founders will invest a further $20,000 into successful startups.
The SynBio industry has proven its potential to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems in food, agriculture, health, and medicine.
Main Sequence principal Gabrielle Munzer said engineering in biology was still largely an untapped space, yet had potential to “reimagine the way we create food, address climate change and find better health outcomes”.
CSIRO estimates the industry will be worth $27 billion a year by 2040.