DID you know that the global popularity of chia seeds as a health food was pioneered in Western Australia?
And less than one per cent of Australia's superannuation wealth is invested into agriculture?
These were some of the topics of conversation at the Nuffield Australia National Conference, held at the Pan Pacific in Perth on Tuesday this week.
About 150 people attended to hear cutting edge research within the agriculture and adjacent sectors, from industry veterans and Nuffield scholars past
A meeting of the country's greatest minds in agriculture, the Nuffield conference started with a talk from CBH Group chairman Simon Stead, who spoke on the goals being actioned by CBH as it actively work towards its 'Pathway to 2033' plan
This year, CBH has already put runs on the board by expanding its rail fleet.
By 2033, the co-operative is aiming to export three million tonnes of grain per month.
Bruce Rock born John Foss, who was a Nuffield Scholar in 2001, spoke on his business journey, taking his research into the real world into several food and agriculture businesses.
During the time of Mr Foss's Nuffield Scholarship, Mr Foss was researching trends in consumer habits around food.
He launched The Chia Co based on the growing trend within the health and wellness space, and popularised the chia pudding, which is chia seeds soaked in milk.
From then on, Mr Foss has gone onto launch Fancy Plants, a plant-based food company, and several major research organisations, focusing on cropping in the Kimberley and Ord Valley regions, and the State's south and major agricultural corridor.
His research about 'the new consumer' from more than 20 years ago is still a relevant field of study.
Mr Foss recognised the new consumer was more environmentally minded, followed different diet and health advice, and fast-paced lifestyles led more people to eating ready made and convenience food.
And furthering the health food conversation, 2020 Nuffield Scholar from WA, Paula Pownall shared her work on marketing insects, specifically crickets, as food for human consumption.
Crickets are extremely high in protein, making up 69 per cent per hundred grams.
When Ms Pownall received her scholarship, the insect food industry was almost reduced to zero when the pandemic hit.
The research took her across the world, to Canada and Asia, researching how scale cricket farms operate and how they are working within and alongside the market.
After current industry issues, such as energy costs, government regulations and market demands are addressed, Mr Pownall hopes to branch out into 'precision nutrition' and look into how insects can be used in alternative milks
Kristina Hermanson from Nuveen Natural Capital spoke on how Australia has an abundance of opportunities for investment thanks to natural biodiversity, which aren't being capitalised on.
Ms Hermanson said there were several issues, namely reversing biodiversity loss, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and providing food for future populations.
She said these examples could be solved with nature-based solutions, however they needed investment.
2017 Nuffield Fellow, Jerome Critch, PlanFarm, spoke to members of the audience who had travelled from overseas and the Eastern States, explaining how WA growers came to a surplus following several profitable seasons.
Mr Critch spoke on where this surplus is likely to be invested, and how to invest on and off the farm, in the right way.
The Nuffield Australia National Conference began with a dinner on Monday night and runs until Friday.
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