As 2015 draws to a rapid close, what better time to rewind and reflect on the year that’s been?
Here, we look back on those manufacturing stories that shaped 2015 and the lessons we’ve learnt.
Nanna’s berries recall
In February, Australian frozen fruit company Patties Foods was embroiled in a hepatitis A (HAV) outbreak. At least three Victorians and one person in NSW who had eaten Nanna’s Frozen Mixed Berries were diagnosed with the viral disease. The brand’s worst nightmare was suddenly a reality: the Department of Health and Human Services advised anyone who had eaten the berries in the past 50 days to monitor for symptoms — and thousands of packets of Nanna’s Fruit and Creative Gourmet berries were pulled from shop shelves.
The brand survived — but it was far from unscathed. In August, the company revealed that the cost of the frozen berries scare was around $14.6 million loss in profit. Patties now uses a “positive release” protocol on all its frozen berry products, which means every batch is tested in Australia for HAV and E. coli. (They are only released to market when negative test results are provided). Today the company is working hard to regain the trust of consumers and retailers. Only time will tell how successful that will be.
Free Trade Agreement with China
June marked a huge month for Australian industry when Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb signed the China Free Trade Agreement. On day one of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA), more than 85% of Australian goods exports were tariff free, rising to 95% on full implementation. While the big winners were identified to be Australia’s dairy industry, agriculture sector and beef and sheep farmers, the ChAFTA has huge implications for business and consumers alike as it secures better market access for Australia to the world’s second-largest economy, reduces import costs, improves our competitive position and promotes increased two-way investment.
Tax changes for small businesses
The 2015 Federal Budget was good news for small businesses, as they were given a vastly increased $20,000 instant tax claim limit. The 2015 budget was in fact worth a staggering $5.5 billion worth of tax cuts and concessions to small businesses. That’s no small change. For manufacturers, the tax cuts gave small businesses more profit to work with — money that can be invested in things to grow their business. We are yet to see the full impact of the Federal Budget, so watch this space in 2016.
China’s white gold rush
Who can forget those pictures of empty supermarket shelves and shopping trolleys overflowing with baby formula? In October, Australian baby formula producers and mums watched in disbelief as a buying frenzy by Chinese consumers and entrepreneurs resulted in supermarket shelves left empty. With Australian parents outraged and unable to get their hands on their favourite milk formula, supermarkets quickly implemented a limit on the number of cans per transaction. So what caused the frenzy? It came down to the Chinese desire for guaranteed clean infant baby formula made in Australia, and is flowing straight into the profits of milk companies, including The a2 Milk Company.
Many companies are now moving fast to take advantage of the trend. Australian vitamin maker Blackmores, for example, doing big trade in China and has a partnership with Bega, to develop a high quality infant formula. But really, this is only the beginning…
Fake goods on the rise
Aussie beef farmers, breweries, fruit producers and wine makers were shown the very real threat that counterfeit products pose to their brand integrity in 2015 when it was revealed that counterfeit products are on the rise. This has huge implications for any Australian company that wants to sell in China. It’s not surprise, then, that serialisation has become a hot topic. It is fast being recognised as one of the most effective ways to improve traceability, protect brand integrity, and respond quickly and effectively to risks in the supply chain.
To be continued …
No doubt about it, this year has brought some big announcements for the manufacturing industry — the Federal Budget and ChAFTA to name but two.
But these stories don’t end the moment we ring in 2016. They are stories that are only just beginning, they are stories to be continued. In the year to come, some businesses will evolve and grow — and some will flail and fail — as the realities of the changes set in.
What are the stories that shaped 2015 for you? What will you do differently next year, if anything? We’d love to hear your thoughts.
Photo credit / Ersin Kisacik