Fresh link

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Co-ordinated by the department’s Small Landholder Information Service (SLIS), Fresh Food Link (FFL) is all about connecting smaller producers more directly with markets, processors, value-adders and consumers. The initiative will enable WA small landholders and businesses to capitalise on the increasing demand in the marketplace for quality WA produce — both fresh and value-added.

With almost 60,000 small landholders in WA with properties of less than 100 hectares, spread over nearly 650,000ha, the potential production of food from these properties is enormous.

However, growing a productive and profitable enterprise on a small property has many challenges. Consequently, many small producers struggle to establish businesses and are not able to recover a return on their efforts or investment.

Often small growers put their energies into growing and producing fantastic food, but have limited outlets for their product, because they do not have the sufficient volume of production to generate market pull. It is difficult enough for large mainstream growers to achieve this, let alone small producers.

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A potential solution for growers is to consider niche marketing of their raw product or accessing value-adding or processing relationships.

Smaller growers and businesses also often lack the time, resources and networks to explore the opportunities that exist.

FFL assists small producers and businesses to overcome these obstacles and realise their potential.

The initiative will build a register of supply and demand stakeholders. Its ambitious role is to find potential matches and help to make connections. This process will capitalise on the extensive networks that have been established by the SLIS, as well as tapping into other departmental and industry intelligence.

For growers, the FFL register includes details of what they are growing, quantity, when, where and who has the capacity to grow something extra.

The register will have an initial basic expression of interest, then a member of the FFL team will contact the grower and jointly record the extra information required. It is important that a richness of information is collected, so that the FFL team can seek the best possible matches with the range of different markets that are available.

For businesses, the register will collate interested farmer’s markets, wholesalers, retailers, processors and value-adders. Information will include what type of products are being sought, volumes, when, where and any specific requirements. Once this information is recorded, the FFL team can run queries of the database to find suitable matches then broker introductions between the different parties.

SLIS encourages registration with FFL, but it is important that members meet local content, safety and quality criteria.

As with Buy West Eat Best labelled products, they must be grown, farmed or fished in WA. Processed foods must have ingredients with the same criteria and the goods must have been transformed or processed in WA.

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