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GRDC RESEARCH UPDATES: Grains Australia pushes on with plans to amalgamate up to 18 ‘good functions’ groups

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Cally DupeCountryman
A Powerpoint slide showing the list of grains industry good functions organisations.
Camera IconA Powerpoint slide showing the list of grains industry good functions organisations. Credit: Cally Dupe/Countryman

A Powerpoint slide showing the logos of 18 grains industry groups has laid bare the sizeable task ahead of Grains Australia as it powers on with amalgamating as many as possible in coming years.

Grains Australia chief executive Richard Simonaitis pointed to the slide during his presentation at this week’s Grains Research Updates in Perth on Monday and labelled it a challenge.

He said amalgamating and streamlining dozens of smaller industry groups into the new $20 million-plus group would provide a singular voice to take to markets, government and other authorities.

The push to bring together “industry good functions” kicked off in mid-2020 with the formation of Grains Australia thanks to a $2m-plus boost from Grains Research Development Corporation.

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Mr Simonaitis was appointed chief executive of Grains Australia last year, after more than a decade in the same role at the WA-based Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre.

AEGIC was among the 18 groups highlighted for amalgamation into Grains Australia during his presentation, as well as Pulse Australia, Barley Australia, Grain Trade Australia and Wheat Quality.

Nearly all the organisations were either partially or fully funded by GRDC.

“There are a lot of well-intentioned groups, but quite often under-resourced or acting as a singularity with not much depth in their models,” Mr Simonaitis said.

“Because they are all there to pursue an individual interest, their outcomes can be in competition with each other.

“Hence the opportunity to combine as many of these functions as we can and to work together.”

Mr Simonaitis said the building blocks of Grains Australia concept were established by GRDC, Grain Producers Australia, Grain Trade Australia, Grain Growers Limited and Pulse Australia.

AEGIC chief executive Richard Simonaitis.
Camera IconGrains Australia CEO Richard Simonaitis. Credit: Julius Pang/Julius Pang

“It is about having a single industry services, umbrella organisation, consolidating and adequately resourcing and coordinating the activities of our pre-competitive space,” he said.

“It gives us a singular voice we can use in both international and domestic markets, and in our voice to government and other decision-making authorities.”

Grains Australia has so far brought together three national bodies — Grains Industry Market Access Forum, Wheat Quality Australia and the National Working Party on Grain Protection.

Discussions are ongoing with Pulse Australia, the Grains Industry Association of WA and the Australian Oilseeds Federation, among others.

Speaking to crowds at the GRDC Updates at Crown Perth, Mr Simonaitis said Grains Australia also aimed to service the connection between what the market wanted and what industry could provide.

This included more efficient industry operation, improved connectivity across the value chain, improved industry influence in domestic and global forums.

“Aligning the investment of all of the investments, and prioritising opportunities and co-ordinating functions towards value and efficient delivery of services will equal faster time to market and increased grower profitability,” Mr Simonaitis said.

“It is also about matching up what the market expectations are and what our industry can deliver.

“By aligning the investment of all of those entities that have been working independently and then prioritising the opportunities as we see them. . . you get to the market opportunity quicker.”

Grains Australia was formed after more than a decade of discussions about the need to streamline industry good functions for the betterment of the entire grains value chain.

Its creation was heralded as the biggest shake-up to the industry landscape since the deregulation of Australia’s wheat market and the introduction of the Wheat Marketing Act in 2008, when different functions were handed to various groups.

The group was initially funded by about $2m from GRDC, with the grower and Federal Government funded organisation tipping in a further $17.5m for four years this year.

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