ignite Series - Part One: Leading the way

07 February 2020

A cold pressed fruit juice that retains its taste, colour, flavour and nutrients is one of many innovations developed at CSIRO's Werribee Food Innovation Centre.

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Preshafood started at the Werribee site, where it developed high pressure processing (HPP) to produce the world's first single variety apple juices without traditional heat or preservatives, which can destroy nutrients and taste.

With its unique, crisp and natural taste Preshafruit juice, which now uses apple, orange, passionfruit, lemon, pear, pomegranate, pineapple and raspberry, also has no added sugar and is BPA free.

Alastair McLachlan is CEO of Preshafood, which makes Preshafruit juices in Derrimut in Melbourne's west. It is at the forefront of the high-value high pressure processing sector with established retail and export markets, an expanded factory and more than 60 new jobs.

"Preshafood is living proof that you can work with the CSIRO to develop super premium products that have not been available to the Australian market or world markets in the past," Mr McLachlan says.

Economic benefits

An independent estimate of the economic benefits of this technology alone is $360m over the next 10 years.

CSIRO has extensive experience in engaging the food industry through the broad research and development capabilities at Werribee. One of only a handful of facilities like it in the world, the centre provides companies with processing, product and process development, scale-up, innovation capabilities and more.

It has supported Victorian food companies to grow the sales of innovative food and beverage products in Australian and export markets. As a result, companies have invested in new plants and equipment and grown their workforces to support increased processing, product innovation and sales.

A conservative estimate of the economic impact over the past 10 years with just 15 companies, most of them Victorian based, is $240 million. Of this, 75 per cent was captured by Victorian businesses and manufacturing. SMEs accounted for at least 80 per cent. The estimated associated new employment impact was 570, with 443 attributed to Victoria.

Helping businesses develop

A small sample of other Victorian food and beverage businesses the centre has supported include:

  • the Food Revolution Group (juice extraction technology)
  • Clover Corporation (nutraceuticals)
  • Gold Peg (developing food processing equipment)
  • Community Chef (boosting the nutritional value of meals for at risk populations)
  • Impromy (developing high protein shakes)
  • The Eat Group (plant-based proteins on-farm value addition)

SMEs can also access CSIRO's SME Connect team to connect with Australia's research sector, funding programs, support and resources.

Mr McLachlan says the help he received was invaluable. "One thing that I am sure of is we would never be in the position that we are now if we didn't start with the collaborative work with CSIRO," he says.

More on CSIRO's Food Innovation Centre: https://www.csiro.au/en/Do-business/RandD/Do-business-Agriculture-Food/Food-innovation-centre

Contact the centre: foodinnovation@csiro.au

More information on CSIRO's SME Connect: https://www.csiro.au/en/Do-business/Solutions-for-SMEs/About-SME-Connect

Shining a light on IP protection

Knog is a Melbourne company that has built international success by manufacturing a range of cycling, action sports, outdoor and digital products and accessories. They are sold in over 50 countries.

Product engineer Malcolm McKechnie and industrial designer Hugo Davison set up Knog in 2002. They wanted to make a difference by adding value to a brand through good design where there were no existing major benchmarks, so chose the bicycle accessories market.

Setting Knog apart is the founders' commitment to good design and quality, passion for innovation, sense of fun and refusal to conform. They want to be a fresh alternative, making product development a key driver.

Knog's products are designed in its Melbourne studio by a dedicated group of product designers, electronic engineers, web developers and graphic designers.

The value of IP

Knog knows the value of protecting its intellectual property (IP) in Australia and overseas and seeks to protect the creative effort in its products.

"Apart from beautiful design, inspiring products and cool marketing, IP immediately follows as our sustainable advantage with remaining a competitive brand," Mr McKechnie says.

"Our patents protect the innovation and inventiveness that go into our products, our designs protect the unique appearance of our products and our trademarks help to identify the real products from the 'Knog offs'.

"Early on, we decided to protect our IP as best we could. With IP protection, you're anticipating the future. We have trademarks on our brand, our sub-brands and many of our product names.

"Registered IP protection is important, and it demonstrates that we are serious about our brand, products, marketing and making a difference. Without IP protection we would not have gained the support and growth we have today. This approach is even more important with our recent venture into the outdoor space, with headlamps and power systems."

Stamping out copies

Knog knows more product fakes are emanating from China and has a strategy to identify these manufacturers to try to stamp out the cheap copies. This strategy has seen several resellers ceasing to import these imitations.

"We all know that most of the products we buy and use today emanate from China," Mr McKechnie says. "So we see most copies being produced in China and shipped to other countries where we sell our products.

"While the manufacturers may proudly copy products and see themselves as being quite clever in identifying a good copy product contender, they also stop selling product as soon as a design or patent document is waved at them."

Enforcement strategies are a big issue and Knog has acted against a Chinese factory that distributed counterfeit copies of its bike lights. Legal action can be expensive, so it concentrates on key markets, having learned a lot since engaging attorneys.

IP protection

Knog has found that protecting its IP is a powerful deterrent and good ammunition against copy-cats.

"IP protection is a peculiar beast," Mr McKechnie says. "You never know when you're going to need to rely on it and it can be tough deciding which products and marks should be protected. We cannot protect everything, so we have to make a judgement on where we spend the IP budget."

IP advice has been critical to Knog's success.

Our trademarks help to identify the real products from the 'Knog offs'.

"Early on we attempted to submit a patent application," Mr McKechnie says. "We didn't know what we were doing and didn't understand the process. It soon taught us the importance of seeking expert advice – and getting GOOD advice. For example, don't seek advice from a patent attorney that doesn't specialise or have experience in those areas appropriate to your application."

More at: ipaustralia.gov.au

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