The Central Coast has many existing strengths and emerging capabilities in the food production and food services sector. Apart from its food and beverage manufacturing capability, it is home to a diverse sector covering smaller artisan food producers, high quality primary food producers together with food service companies in catering and hospitality.
It is represented in the fresh, dry goods, chilled and frozen supply chains which provides opportunities for exploration of food items or additives that can cut across all these supply chains.
There are two key points that differentiate the Central Coast from most other regions. The first is that it has the largest city population base in Australia, in Sydney, at its door step. Couple with this it has agricultural and industry lands to service the population base and beyond.
Secondly it has two major research facilities in its region with a third being built. The University of Newcastle has a campus at Ourimbah that has its food science school with research capability located there. On the same campus the NSW Department of Primary Industries has its Centreof Excellence for Market Access and Greenhouse Horticulture.The University is building a medical research centre alongside the Gosford Hospital that provides opportunities with food and preventive health.
The University of Newcastle has committed to building capacity in food and agribusiness as part of the Global Impact Cluster for Energy, Resources, Food and Water. This is further supported by the recent signing of an MOU between the University, Regional Development Australia, Central Coast and our organisation Central Coast Industry Connect.
On this basis Central Coast Industry Connect applied to FIAL for funding as part of their Cluster Programme. Food Innovation Australia Limited launched their Cluster Programme in late 2017 to encourage greater connectivity and collaboration in regions and cities across the Australian Food and Agribusiness sector. Clustering accelerates innovation and growth; and this programme provides the platform for industry, government, and researchers to work towards a common goal.
The programme was well received by industry, with 32 high quality submissions received from cluster consortia across Australia.
Central Coast Industry Connect (CCIC)was one of four successful applications to receive the matched funding with CCIC receiving $393,000 over three years.
The other recipients were:
- The East Gippsland Food Cluster( Now called Food and Fibre Gippsland), an established cluster, which implements projects across the Gippsland region in Victoria.
- Fermentation Tasmania (Fermen Tasmania), an existing cluster located in Hobart, Tasmania
- The Food and Agribusiness Network (FAN), a mature cluster located in Woombye, Queensland.
On the 26th September 2019 the Central Coast Food Alliance was launched with the following specific purpose:
The purpose of the cluster is to bring industry, research organisations and governments to collaboratively work together to grow the current food and beverage sector, to create more local employment, give the region a clearer identity and improve the social fabric of the region.