To help Australian farmers, investors, and others in the agribusiness space realise the potential of the agricultural sector, PwC has this week announced its establishment of a new specialist Food and Agribusiness Advisory Team and food safety assurance offering.
The advisory team will be led by new partners Greg Quinn, Ben Craw, and Tim Lee.
Troy Porter, deals leader at PwC, said the team wants to work with farmers and agribusinesses to unlock new opportunities in a key that is set to be a key future driver of economic growth for Australia.
“Australia’s agriculture sector is crucially important for the nation’s future economic growth and prosperity. The sector’s growth potential is enormous. By 2050 it has been estimated that Australia has an opportunity to capture an additional $0.7 trillion to $1.7 trillion in agricultural exports,” he said.
“PwC wants to be at the forefront of this opportunity, helping facilitate the sector’s access to capital to meet the demands of local and regional population growth and to solve the intergenerational succession issues faced by many Australian farmers.”
The food safety assurance business, meanwhile, is a full International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) service, and will provide advisory services related to compliance with ISO standards, as well as training for compliance officers in large businesses.
This unit will be headed up by Peter Chandler, an expert with over 30 years of experience in the food safety industry.
Peter Buchholz, PwC assurance partner, said Australian food and agribusinesses need effective and efficient processes to achieve value from certification, with PwC able to support them in monitoring and maintaining compliance.
“These services are adjacent to the existing work we do with clients in the food and agribusiness sectors to help build trust and confidence about food products. Peter has extensive market leading experience and we’re delighted he has come on board,” he said.
The move comes at a time when the buzz surrounding the local agricultural sector has never been louder; a report released by StartupAUS last year outlined how, supported by agtech, the sector can develop into a $100 billion industry by 2030.
Investment in agtech globally is strong: according to AgFunder data, 2015 saw a record amount of funding for agtech, following the upward trend of the venture capital markets in general.
2016 saw a drop of 30 percent in agtech investment, falling from $4.6 billion to $3.2 billion, as global VC investment overall fell 10 percent. However, this figure is still well ahead of the $2.4 billion invested in 2014, while the number of deals closed year-over-year also increased by 10 percent on 2015.
AgFunder attributed this to new support from a growing number of accelerators and other early-stage resources dedicated to food and agtech startups.
The potential of Australian food and agribusinesses to export was highlighted by Malcolm Turnbull last year.
Speaking about the free trade agreements (FTAs) Australia has signed with Korea, Japan, and China, Turnbull urged regional businesses to take advantage of the opportunities they present, saying that when it comes to produce in particular Australia can benefit greatly from exposure to Asia.
“There are descriptions made in China that Tasmania can be the delicatessen of China; well not even Tasmania is big enough to be the delicatessen of China, but nonetheless the opportunities are enormous,” he said.