July’s Industry Update marks the end of my tenure with Food South Australia.  It’s a great opportunity to reflect on where things began for me personally – a part-time Executive Officer of Flavour SA, starting in 2002 and now leaving as CEO of Food South Australia in 2023.  There are many industry achievements to celebrate.  Food South Australia came into being as the result of a merger between Food Adelaide and Flavour SA in 2010.  Food Adelaide had a total export focus and Flavour SA was a networking association.  The impetus for the merge was for the single association to deliver programs for the food and beverage industry on behalf of the State Government.  Soon after, we took over the running of the South Australian Premier’s Food and Beverage Industry Awards program which has grown over the years to be without doubt the industry’s ‘night of nights’.

Our strategic pillars have consistently been – growing markets, growing capacity and capability, and growing connections.  We exist to help our industry grow and indeed it has over the past 20 years – with year on year growth (the only manufacturing sector in South Australia to achieve this), and being one of the state’s significant employers. While we support our members first and foremost, whether it be in Adelaide, Japan or China, we also have an industry-wide role.  It can be difficult for our industry to know how to navigate the Government system.  There isn’t a Food and Beverage Department, there are many!  Advocacy has been a large part of my role and being that interface with Government and the voice of industry has been a privilege.

We have emerged from COVID and have so much ahead of us.  All things sustainability are key to this industry’s success.  ESG, packaging, net zero, food waste, scope 1, 2 and 3 and sustainability credentials are all terms that are relatively new and there is much to do in this space to ensure we remain globally competitive into the future.  Activities such as the Food and Beverage Summit are so important to keep our industry informed.  Tradeshows, both domestically and overseas, are critical for us to connect with buyers and to do it as a group of South Australian businesses is much more powerful than doing it individually.

I would like to express my sincere gratitude for more than 20 years of working in and for the food and beverage industry.  There is nothing like Food SA in other states and we should be proud of what we represent.  Thank you to the Food SA board and team here in Adelaide, as well as in Japan and China, both past and present – a group of more dedicated people would be hard to find. Particular thanks go to Anthony Paech and Ray Borda as the 2 Chairs I have worked with, and to Ian Young, Deputy Chair of Flavour SA and Food SA.  To our members and Hall of Fame inductees, it has been an honour to serve you and be part of such a special community.  And to the State Government – thank you for supporting the food and beverage industry, it is critical for that to continue.  We are the back bone of the South Australian economy and have something to be very proud of.  I hope to have continued contact with many of you when I join the Family Business Association in August.

Best wishes and I look forward to seeing Food SA and the industry continue to grow when I hand the baton to Marni Cook next week.  Please make her feel very welcome.

– Catherine Sayer

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