GrainCorp sees growth options in sharing its data, digital skills

GrainCorp has digital strengths to help ag efficiency, transparency

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GrainCorp's CropConnect internet-based marketing platform is typical of the digital services which the company wants to expand.

GrainCorp's CropConnect internet-based marketing platform is typical of the digital services which the company wants to expand.

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GrainCorp believes it can expand its digital technology capabilities to make farm management and marketing decisions easier and more profitable.

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GrainCorp boss Robert Spurway wants to make greater use of the company's digital technology strengths to help make harvest management and marketing decisions easier - and more profitable - for farmers.

In fact, he sees the grain logistics and marketing company's digital experience and technology partnerships as also likely to help a range of agricultural producers and ag-related businesses, not just the grain sector.

GrainCorp's slimmed-down business model, which spun off its big money-making global malt division a year ago, has been bedding down a disciplined capital management strategy, including simplifying its crop receival, storage, trading and food processing activities where possible.

Managing director, Mr Spurway believed his simplified supply chain agenda should include making life easier for the company's grass roots customers and buyers, building on the digital skills, tools and data insights the company has access to.

Existing digital services such as the contactless warehousing and grain trading platforms CropConnect and FastWeigh already provided financial, efficiency and transparency benefits, but could be further enhanced.

"I think there will be many more ways to bring greater innovation capabilities to growers," he said.

"We also have exciting partnerships which may benefit agriculture more broadly in areas like quality control or connecting different parties with specific markets or technical services."

Optimising value

GrainCorp's data management technologies not only helped refine the company's own supply chain operations, but optimised the value growers extracted from their harvest deliveries.

He pointed to Croptimiser data on grain quality, allowing individual growers to potentially get better prices for a delivery of lower quality wheat if the farm's overall quality data during harvest averaged out much higher.

"We think we can leverage a lot more value and efficiency opportunities from our digital platforms and other products and services as part of our drive to exceed grower expectations," he said.

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Despite the potential pitfalls of the whopper 2020-21 harvest and COVID-19 frustrations, grower feedback showed a "tremendous increase" in satisfaction levels with GrainCorp's services as almost 14 million tonnes were accumulated in record time this season.

Mr Spurway acknowledged three previous years of drought-squeezed grain harvest results prior to this big crop may have tested grower sentiment and relationships.

While GrainCorp's teams had always been "very focused on grower's expectations", he said the severe drought made it hard for everybody.

Positive sentiment

Fortunately, extensive preparation for the 2020 harvest and great crop conditions had been rewarded with plenty of positive sentiment about the season and GrainCorp's capabilities, despite the high pressure summer.

The task ahead was to make the most of that positive mood, expanding customer value propositions for growers as well as the grain trade and food industry.

GrainCorp's oilseed and food processing divisions in Victoria had actually weathered a tricky year of coronavirus challenges to emerge with improved production efficiencies and work practices.

The food business' Melbourne plant developed a new canola-coconut oil-based bakery fat product and meat pie pastry ingredients.

The West Footscray site processes vegetable oils, margarine and cooking fat products for the retail, food service and baking industries, and ingredients for the dairy and infant formula market.

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