Food and Agribusiness Network | Celebrating Australian Food and Agribusiness Innovations 2021
Food & Agribusiness Network (FAN) was founded in 2015 with the aim of driving the success of Queensland’s Greater Sunshine Coast local food industry. Formed by local leaders and regional stakeholders who saw value in using embedded industry knowledge, skills and resources to help other businesses, FAN exemplifies the benefits of a cluster approach.
The network’s collaborative culture stems from a high degree of trust, which CEO Emma Greenhatch says took time to foster. She joined FAN after nine years in the food industry in a range of senior roles within the Victorian Government and was initially responsible for grants and funding. She found the energy, openness and willingness of FAN members to be an incredible asset when building the community and ecosystem required to realise success.
Today FAN boasts around +320 members across the entire food chain and fosters strong partnerships with all levels of government, research and other industry stakeholders. Emma says success is based on the understanding that members can achieve more by banding together, but it also depends on members driving programs and services that meet their needs. FAN aims to empower members to make their own world bigger and encourages connection with other producers and businesses in the supply chain.
She credits the cluster model as a key to building resilience — something that stood member companies well during the pandemic.
“While the food sector possibly fared better than others, it was still tough. Fortunately, all our members made it through a difficult year. For SMEs, loss of a sales channel could quickly spell the end, but strong connections allowed people to come together, think differently and pivot quickly,” she said.
Building community initially meant directing resources to events designed to foster relationships — outward-facing activities rather than the administrative backend. Emma says FIAL’s program funding has provided FAN with the opportunity to identify programs and projects that benefit its members, implement systems and processes to streamline its operations and formalise its operating model to ensure future growth.