News and Success Stories

Published 15 March 2024

Opportunity Awaits for New Zealand Agritech in Western Australia

A Callaghan Innovation delegation of agritech companies, and ag enthusiasts has returned from a week-long market immersion in Western Australia (WA) rounded off by AgriFutures evokeAG 2024 conference in late February. 

Starting in Perth and travelling to the South West, the delegation visited a range of innovative agriculture companies and farmers, growers, innovation hubs, and processing facilities to hear about their process and use of agritech solutions. 

Note: We often struggle to convey just how busy, in-depth and varied the visits on a market immersion are in our summary articles. So we are trying something different by sharing something deeper, to better capture the magic that happens on each day of the immersion. 

Warning: Reading past this point may result in sparks of FOMO.

Day One:

Our trip started by meeting with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD). Discussions emphasised the focus to extend beyond commodity crops with biofuels, and elevation of the horticultural industry on the radar. A valuable scene setting for the week to come.

We also visited a regenerative food and agriculture company, Wide Open Agriculture LTD to see their regenerative beef, lamb, and poultry products, as well as their regenerative carbon-neutral oat milk, OatUP.

Day Two:

Highlights from day two include our 90 minute visit to Bluemoon Orchard followed by 90 minutes at Bluemoon Packing.

Jeremy at Bluemoon Orchard was a great host as he showed us apple, avocado and stone fruit orchards he has managed over the last few years, putting his 30 year experience into turning this into a profitable business. He is keen to adopt tech and actively does so as he replaces his orchards, and moves his operations to a robot-ready set up. All the while keeping an eye on what the consumers are demanding in-market to inform what his next focus should be. 

Steve showed us around Bluemoon Packing, the only company in WA using packing robots (80 percent of their fruit is handled by robots). It was exciting to see New Zealand autonomous robotics provider, Robotics Plus’ Aporo packing robots included in their state-of-the-art production process where every piece of fruit is weighed and inspected by an automatic grader, and suction cups are used to efficiently package the fruit. 

We also met with Tash Teakle from AgriStart Innovation Cluster, she is the person to know if anyone is interested in developing a market entry strategy into Western Australia. Feel free to reach out to her on LinkedIn as she’s eager to hear what the Kiwi companyies have to offer.

Day Three:

Making our way back towards Perth, we stopped at one of the biggest feedlots in Western Australia to meet with Matt Camarri from S Camarri & Co Feedlot. They produce 2000 head of cattle a year (a straight angus herd), calving 900 of them themselves on 3000 acres! Matt showed us their tempered grain feed which uses barley, canola, lupins, hay and silage, plus their feeding system which produces domestic grain-fed cattle for the Woolworths and Coles supermarket trade. 

We also met with Chris Vas from the the Food Innovation Precinct for Western Australia (FIPWA), an agri-food innovation centre of excellence, and an ecosystem of research and development. FIPWA is poised to transform WA's food production landscape. The Peel region is a microgrid, and FIPWA are running a pioneering initiative that offers enticing incentives for businesses, fostering a conducive environment for startups and scale-ups. The multiple skills and talent e.g., Murdoch University, Food Tech Facility which are housed at the precinct will be a big drawcard for companies. 

Chris is happy to answer questions from the broader NZ agritech sector and con be connect via LinkedIn 

Day Four and Five - The Weekend:
After catching up on some rest from a busy few days we were able to spend some time exploring Perth. Our Let’s Connect Networking Event in collaboration with AgriFutures Australia and Western Australian Government (DPIRD) saw 116 people taking the opportunity to connect with other international delegations, our hosts and other sector experts from Australia who were in town attending evokeAG.

Day Six:

We love seeing tech in action, and action is exactly what we got at Australian Automation and Robotics Precinct (AARP). At 51 hectares AARP’s “giant sandpit” is Australia's largest research, development, and testing ground for robotics and zero emission technology. We were fortunate enough to have presentations from and see demos from some of their tenants Strata Worldwide, Harvest Technology Group, Kara Ged and Jevons Robotics.

Day Seven & Eight - evokeAg

Agrifutures evokeAG was a great way to round off an exciting week. Our delegation was able to network with representatives from across multiple industries and witness the wide-range of high-class agritech solutions entering the market through several agritech pitches.

New Zealand agritech was also well-represented with Bovonic, Aquawatch, and CropX Technologies being selected as part of the Startup Alley and Scaleup Station respectively, giving them opportunities to exhibit and present during the two-day event.

“Throughout the excursion it was evident Western Australia and New Zealand Agriculture sectors are facing a lot of the same issues and as a result, agritech companies are quite well aligned to working together cross-tasman,” says Sophie Rebbeck, Project Lead - Agritech Science Commercialisation at Callaghan.

For more insights on the market immersion or evokeAG, see Sophie’s updates from the trip on the Agritech Activator’s LinkedIn. Alternatively,  if you’re interested in the Western Australia market and want introductions to key industry contacts, please contact Sophie: [email protected]

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