FOOD SAFETY – THE CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES AFTER COVID-19.

By Liz Lacerda, Foreign Correspondent

June 23, 2020

B.Talks “Agribusiness, Animal Protein and Biosecurity”

Food Safety has always been a major concern for the agriculture and agribusiness sectors, but Covid-19 is highlighting the importance of stronger norms and regulations as well as transparency on the handling, preparation, and storage of food in ways that prevent food-borne illnesses.

“Because of Covid-19 and all the changes deriving from it, food security becomes a very important issue. Countries will look for reliable sources of food, both domestically and internationally, and that presents great opportunities for Brazil and Australia. It is also a challenge because there will be an increased pressure for more stringent norms and standards for food security and biosecurity, including the control of pests”, said the Deputy Consul-General of Brazil in Sydney, Joaquim Pena.

Zoonosis emergence is a key common global issue. “There are numbers showing that 60% of human pathogens are from animal origin, and to handle this when we are dealing with different countries, veterinary services, capacity, knowledge and technology, that is huge”, said the General Director at Agroicone, Rodrigo Lima.

The challenges and opportunities of food safety, biosecurity and technologies in the context of the Covid-19 and its aftermath in various global industries was discussed at the B.Talks, on June 4. B.Talks is a monthly online series organised by the Australia Brazil Business Council to debate and exchange insights on the international trade between Australia and Brazil, with the participation of experts and professionals of both countries.

John Berry, the Head of Corporate & Regulatory Affairs at JBS Australia, declared that food security and food supply is ‘front and centre’ globally, and the challenge will be around managing disease risk and also feeding the world in a sustainable way. “People want to understand where their food comes from. This presents lots of challenges but also a lot of opportunities to ensure integrity throughout the supply chain”. Mr. Berry said that Brazil and Australia can work stronger together to develop opportunities through technology “to drive not just productivity but also systems, which deliver the end customer confidence in the quality of food we produce”, he said.

“In a beef transaction, you can have up to 20 documents, and that leaves room for fraud and failure. Tracking, traceability and authentication of data have never been more relevant for food security”

According to the experts, technology and the automation of systems and procedures reduce the risk of fraud and human error in the agribusiness sector. “In a beef transaction, you can have up to 20 documents, and that leaves room for fraud and failure. Tracking, traceability and authentication of data have never been more relevant for food security”, says Linda Woodford, Founder and CEO at AXIchain.

In order to reduce paperwork and increase transparency, AXIchain developed the Mobile National Vendors Declaration. “There are 64.5 million live stock movements every year across Australia and, according to the MLA (Meat and Livestock Australia), it costs the industry AUD 163 million/year to decipher poorly filled out documents. Now, that data feeds directly into the abattoir. Because of diseases such as Mad Cow, Swine Flu and now Covid, more people than ever want to know more of where their food comes from, the quality of food and the journey it has been on, so Axichain is tracking and tracing those products”, she said.

The President of the Australia Brazil Business Council, Gleuto Serafim, welcomed the use of technology to minimise corruption on the international trade. “We need to make sure that documentation is not actually tampered with. We have been talking about people giving wrong documents or falsifying paper work or even the product. I believe that, to break away from having another Covid-19 in the future, these elements of traceability and transparency on the whole transaction are extremely important for the sustainability of humanity. We need to trust the food we are eating!”

“30% of food is wasted globally across the supply chain, contributing to 8% of total global greenhouse gas emissions. In order to reduce the environmental and economical impacts of food waste, its conversion into poultry feed is an alternative”

The matter of food waste was also discussed during the event. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, 30% of food is wasted globally across the supply chain, contributing to 8% of total global greenhouse gas emissions. In order to reduce the environmental and economical impacts of food waste, its conversion into poultry feed was presented as an alternative.

Brat Stebbing, Board Director at Food Recycle, said that 90% of food wasted in Brazil is commercial and that represents business opportunities. “Brazil is one of the largest producers of food in the world – protein, at least – and the country has a big supply of waste and also a lot of demand for feed. The biggest strength of our process is that we can basically deliver any formulation of food required.”

The Ambassador of Brazil in Australia, Sérgio Moreira Lima, suggested the creation of a Private-Public Australia Brazil forum on agriculture and food security to promote a continuous debate on the matter. “This would give us a chance to better understand biosecurity and to raise knowledge on this specific issue so we can move on our conversations with the Australian government.”

The B.Talks event was organized with support from the Consulate General of Brazil in Sydney, JBS and Food Recycle, and in partnership with the Embassy of Brazil in Canberra, Austrade, IBREI and Latam Airlines.

B.Talks” is a series of events created by the Australia Brazil Business Council where participants have the opportunity to listen and interact in an insightful Talk with experts and authorities in the relevant Fields of international trade.

Click here to watch the full webinar.

By Liz Lacerda, Foreign Correspondent

* This disclaimer informs readers that the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and not necessarily the Australia Brazil Business Council organization, the organiser’s committee or other group or individual.