NSW Farmers is calling for $5 million to study regional food hub opportunities and the smart logistics and intermodal solutions needed to connect the agricultural economies of New South Wales with international freight routes for premium goods, including the future Western Sydney Airport.
Almost all of New South Wales’ fresh produce is grown outside the Sydney basin, with most of it trucked long distances along already crowded roads to markets in Sydney. Most goods that arrive in Sydney are in a raw state, with value-adding often taking place in factories in western Sydney before they are exported or distributed locally as finished products. This inefficiency weakens our regions and is placing added pressure on supply chain and logistics infrastructure. It also tends to skew future infrastructure investment towards bulk transport, rather than toward the more rapid and agile solutions to efficiently move finished, value added goods.
The creation of advanced agrifood clusters linked to rapid freight hubs - ‘regional food hubs’ - in locations such as, but not limited to, the south coast, Albury, Griffith, Orange, Dubbo, Tamworth, Armidale and Coffs Harbour is key to the supply chain transformation needed to build scale in booming global markets for premium and fresh goods.
NSW Farmers has strongly supported the development of the Western Sydney fresh food precinct and the concept of the Western Sydney Agriport, equipping the new airport to be an export hub for fresh and premium regional value added products. Investment in Western Sydney, however, is only part of the solution. The proposed study will consider the whole of New South Wales as a linked food production, manufacturing and intermodal logistics system.
Industry clusters deliver major synergies to stakeholders: these include local ecosystems of specialised skills, stronger industry-to-industry relationships, streamlined supply chains and supportive local government policy. The Netherlands, New Zealand, Canada, the USA and many other nations have demonstrated how coordinated investment in food industry clusters can underpin supply chain efficiency and the development of distinctive, regional brands and specialisations.
Backing innovative manufacturing clusters closer to the farm gate helps grow regional communities, reduces costs for transporting raw materials and encourages regional collaboration to create jobs and opportunities. As such, it creates a pathway to achieving decentralisation and regional growth targets.
The study will predominately focus on: