Global accelerator returns to Brisbane to support food manufacturers

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Alexander Bell, Director of Milton Rum Distillery. Image supplied.

The Future Food global accelerator, run by the Brisbane Economic Development Agency (BEDA), has returned this year to aid ten local food and beverage manufacturers in scaling and exporting to new markets.

Since 2018, the Future Food Initiative has helped over 400 enterprises, creating $480 million in economic activity, with prior participants including JBS Foods Australia, Merlo, Priestley’s Gourmet Delights, and Kehoe’s Kitchen.

In a media release, Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner stated that it is critical to promote local suppliers in order to retain and develop employment and business investment in Brisbane.

“We are committed to ensuring Brisbane continues to be the most small-business friendly destination in Australia,” Schrinner said.

He added that Brisbane has all the necessary components for the food industry to flourish, including access to some of the largest markets in the world via its ports, fresh, locally sourced ingredients, and cutting-edge manufacturing skills.

“We want to make sure Brisbane suppliers can grow their impact locally, and scale globally, by connecting with networks and buyers that can fast-track products to the market,” Schrinner noted. 

As part of the initiative, businesses participate in an eight-week global readiness accelerator led by industry experts and the Queensland University of Technology (QUT). 

Alexander Bell, director of Milton Rum Distillery and previous participant, said the program helped him connect with key investors and contacts in the food market.

“BEDA were able to help us build our network and find our collaborators,” Bell said. 

Bell explained, “It allowed us to turbocharge our growth, so rather than struggling with the challenges of growing a small business all by ourselves, we had access to networks and data we would never have had access to before.”

To date, manufacturing of food, beverages, and groceries contributed $27 billion to Queensland’s GDP in FY20/21, supported over 52,000 jobs, and resulted in exports worth $7.4 billion, as reported by the Australian Food and Grocery Council.

In 2022, Brisbane City Council issued more than 8,300 licences for food businesses, including 548 for bakeries, 264 for food trucks, 615 for food producers, and 48 for beverage bottlers.