When COVID-19 hit, the Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre’s (AEGIC) busy 2020 schedule of hosting seminars, workshops, conferences and meetings across Asia was interrupted.
“We quickly had to switch gears and find different ways of continuing to support customers,” chief executive officer Richard Simonaitis says.
“It wasn’t just our own travel that was affected. The Australian grains industry could not host international delegations in Australia. These visitors want to see the growing conditions for the coming crop and check out our supply chains in action. They often visit farms, receival sites, ports and research companies,” he says.
“We believe these customer interactions are vitally important – firstly to give customers confidence in our production systems and supply chains and, secondly, to maintain and build upon working relationships and human connections across the supply chain between producer, trader and customer.”
Mr Simonaitis says AEGIC wanted to keep these critical connections going, so staff quickly pivoted to producing a series of monthly virtual crop inspection videos to keep Australia’s grain customers in the loop.
The videos showed the current status of crops in each region and included updates from growers themselves.
The videos were translated into five languages and distributed to flour millers, brewers, maltsters, government agencies, traders and other stakeholders across 12 Asian countries.
The videos were a collaboration with ADM, CBH Group, CHS Broadbent, Glencore/Viterra, GrainCorp, GrainGrowers, the Grain Industry Association of Western Australia, Grain Producers South Australia and Grain Trade Australia.
“Every month, beginning with June, we produced three videos – one for South Australia, one for Western Australia and one for New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland combined,” he says.
“The videos showed the current status of crops in each region and included updates from growers themselves.
“Our collaborating organisations collected video and photo updates from growers around the country, and AEGIC produced, translated and distributed the videos to customers.”
Positive response from customers
Mr Simonaitis says he had lots of positive feedback from international customers.
“Australia’s grain buyers were extremely grateful to still have access to timely and relevant crop information.”
The project was challenging for a variety of reasons, he says.
“For it to be successful, considerable collaboration was needed between these organisations, some of which would usually be operating in a competitive commercial environment. This was a fantastic example of the industry working together for a great outcome for everyone.”
Separately, AEGIC created and distributed a suite of guidelines to help Asian flour mills, noodle makers and bakeries manage their response to COVID-19. The materials covered hygiene, handling payments safely and correct practices for disinfection. Posters and booklets were created, translated, printed and distributed to 22 flour mills and their customers in Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar and Malaysia.
AEGIC is an investment of GRDC and the Western Australian Government.
More information: Richard Simonaitis, 08 6168 9900, firstname.lastname@example.org