As 2014 draws to a rapid close, there’s no better time to rewind and reflect on the year that’s been. Because, let’s face it, it’s been a doozy! Here, we look back on those manufacturing stories that shaped 2014 and the lessons we’ve learnt.
1. SPC Ardmona almost goes under
How could we forget the SPC Ardmona story from February this year? To recap, SPC Ardmona’s cannery in Victoria’s Goulburn Valley was under serious threat. So in a bid to save the business, Coca-Cola Amatil (CCA) proposed to provide $150m if both the Federal and the Victorian Governments provided $25m each. The money would be invested in a new plant and equipment, as well as new product development. To cut a long story short, first the Victorian Government said “no” then they had a change of heart and agreed to kick in $22m over three years, with CCA investing $78m of its own cash.
But the real story here wasn’t in the talks between the governments and CCA — it was among the consumers in the twitter-sphere. On February 7, from her home in Newcastle, NSW, Linda Drummond created the hashtag #SPCSunday to encourage Australians to support the flailing processor by enjoying SPC tinned fruit products with ice-cream on Sunday. By the next day, the hashtag was tweeted more than 900 times by politicians, media personalities and pretty much everyone else who loves SPC products. And the rest is history.
Lessons for 2015: For some, SPC’s struggle and victory is all about identifying what your brand means to the public, and putting this at the heart of the business. For others, it’s about the importance of nurturing a constant culture of innovation — whether that means having the latest machinery or investing in new product development. Whatever lesson you take, this is definitely one that SPC won’t forget in a hurry.
2. Australia gets into pouches
2014 was the year that herbs in a pouch made it into homes across Australia. But we’re not talking about any old pouch – Gourmet Garden won the Best in Category for packaging and graphics in the Good Design Australia Awards 2014 for its lightly dried herbs in re-sealable pinch pouches.
Gourmet Garden launched its new product in April, and by July the company was creating 50 new jobs to deal with the high demand and rocketing sales. Then a month later, the company launched its click-n-stack packaging concept to Coles stores nationwide.
Lessons for 2015: Gourmet Garden’s pouches aren’t an isolated success story – but they do demonstrate how thinking outside the box with your packaging can make a massive difference to your product and, ultimately, your company. Let 2015 be the year you think differently about your packaging and how it can better meet the needs of your target market.
3. It’s time to become Asia’s deli
When 400 prominent Australian business leaders and food industry players met at the Global Food Forum this year, some big numbers were put into the spotlight:
- 5 billion extra mouths will need to be fed in the next 30 years – 20-25% more than today.
- A massive 75% of this growth is in Asia, right on Australia’s doorstep.
For the first time, it was crystal clear that Australian food manufacturers need to become Asia’s deli. But the question that was really up for discussion was how Australia can meet this demand.
Because, while Australia has the advantages of proximity, available land, relationships and quality products, we are battling the significant challenges of employment regulations and climate change. And it’s these uncontrollable challenges that prevent us from reaping the benefits of Asia’s future demand for food.
Lessons for 2015: We won’t solve these challenges overnight, but as the AFCG’s 2014 State of the Industry report highlighted last month, the industry will get there with the right government support to reduce the overall cost of doing business and improve the competitiveness of the industry.
We can’t help but think about the three words spoken by “The Brand Guy”, Richard Sauerman, at the Food & Drink Business Live Industry of the Future Forum back in August:
“Do epic shit”
Remember these words as you go into 2015 along with four other “epic” pieces of advice:
- Challenge your own thinking
- Embrace change and the opportunities it brings
- Act fast
- Get experts in to help you along the way
What are the stories that shaped 2014 for you? What will you do differently in 2015? We’d love to hear your thoughts.