International Supply Chain Benchmarking

The international supply chain benchmarking project (the project) is a key Commonwealth action under the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy.

It aims to evaluate Australia’s supply chain transport and logistics performance, using comprehensive data, modelling, and analysis, providing a shared evidence base to industry, research, community, and public sector stakeholders. Sustained delivery of this information will help support:

  • informed strategic policy and planning, investment and regulation
  • understanding of Australia’s efficiency and international competitiveness
  • collaboration on priorities, challenges or key areas of interest, using benchmarking as a foundation for informed exploration

Why Benchmark?

This project addresses the identified need to integrate freight and supply chain performance information, across regions and against international benchmarks. This need was highlighted in the industry-led Inquiry into National Freight and Supply Chain Priorities (2017), which recommended benchmarking key supply chain performance against international competitors as a priority action.

Comparing the movement of commodities, domestically and internationally, helps to identify areas for potential improvement or investment, to support Australia’s competitiveness and resilience.

An iterative approach: delivering through design

Since the pilot study in 2019, the project has taken an iterative approach to delivery of international benchmarking resources. This means that the research and tools can be refined according to user preferences and feedback, as well as emerging priorities.

Pilot (2019) In 2019 L.E.K. Consulting was engaged to undertake a pilot (proof of concept) international benchmarking study, developing a methodology, a framework for selecting nationally significant supply chains, and deep dives into the wine and household waste supply chains.
Measure Announced (2019) The Mid-Year Financial Outlook measure National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy – additional funding was announced in December 2019, delivering further international benchmarking to meet the need identified by the inquiry.
Phase 2 (2020) Following the successful pilot, the methodology was applied to deep dives on two further nationally significant supply chains: grain and cement.
Phase 3 (2020-21) Engagement of CSIRO to develop a domestic benchmarking dashboard, building on the Transport Infrastructure Network Strategic Investment Tool (TraNSIT). The dashboard, anticipated for first release in June 2021, will show transport and logistics costs across a wide range of Australian commodity supply chains, and provide a robust, systematic basis for future international comparisons.

Further work is planned using the following design principles.

Design principles

Three design principles underpin the project’s activities:

  1. Meeting identified needs: working with public and industry stakeholders to ensure benchmarking makes a difference for decision makers and provides a positive value proposition for participants
  2. Feasible and viable process: designing a practical, repeatable process to deliver sustainable benefits
  3. Leveraging technology and resources: smart use of technical resources and collaboration

Three key activities underway

Building on a successful pilot study in 2019, the project is working to deliver a sustainable benchmarking system across three distinct activities which will contribute to an integrated benchmarking system, designed to inform performance evaluation and decision making, in a sustainable way over time.

deep dive review, benchmarking dashboard, international data collection

Activity 1: Benchmarking Deep Dive Reviews

International benchmarking deep dive reviews involve working with stakeholders on significant priority supply chains or addressing key benchmarking insights, to act on opportunities or challenges, and review and refine the benchmarking value proposition.

Each deep dive uses available intelligence and close engagement to gain insights into nationally significant commodity supply chains and their performance. These targeted international comparisons provide insights into best practice and potential opportunities for reform, help fill information gaps, and inform the overall benchmarking method. To date, four deep dive reviews have been completed. This includes the 2019 pilot study focused on waste and wine, and deep dives completed in 2021 on grain and cement.

All deep dive reports are now available for download below.

Deep Dive Highlights
Household waste (2019)
PDF: 4.7 MB
  • Australia compares favourably against Denmark and Wales on unit cost per tonne for recycling and organics.
  • Denmark and Wales divert more from landfill due to use of waste to energy plants.
  • Trade off between efficiency and environmental outcomes in waste supply chains.
  • 10 per cent of heavy vehicles carry waste.
  • Regulation underlying driver of cost.
Wine (2019)
PDF: 4.7 MB
  • Australian wine supply chain is efficient (by unit costs) compared with California and Bordeaux.
  • Key differences are in the distributors' role and tiered system in USA, and different lot sizes in Bordeaux.
  • For finished goods, general container freight supply chain efficiency is a greater influence than wine specific factors.
  • Industry indicates materials movement is relatively efficient, with appropriate Government support and trade facilitation.
Grain (2021)
PDF: 2.2 MB
  • Australia (and Ukraine) has free market and largely competitive supply chains compared with regulated monopolies (Canada).
  • 34 million tonnes produced in 2017-18 to the value of $12.8 billion.
  • Australia’s grain supply chain costs are close to 40 per cent of the delivered cost of wheat.
  • Generally, Western Australia is more competitive than other Australian states due to its streamlined and predominantly export-oriented supply chain, which has benefited from ongoing infrastructure investment.
Cement (2021)
PDF: 1.2 MB
XLSX: 2.4 MB
  • Australia has a higher reliance on cement imports than the US and France, and makes extensive use of intermediate storage (depots). This contrasts with more direct delivery models employed in the US (shorter haulage distances) and France (extensive plant network).
  • Supply chain costs – of which 55 per cent is freight - comprise up to 35 per cent of the price of cement ($470-$660m yearly).
Next steps
  • Future deep dives will be determined in accordance with national significance and/or priority under the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy.

Activity 2: CSIRO Supply Chain Benchmarking Dashboard

Leveraging past projects involving the CSIRO TraNSIT facility, the Department has partnered with the CSIRO to:

  • model and map Australian supply chain performance
  • integrate supply chain information
  • deliver an evidence base for further international comparison.

The project aims to provide a positive value proposition to all participants. Benefits for industry are provided through freight and supply chain performance insights, as well as greater shared understanding of potential pain points or opportunities. Benefits for governments are found in the comprehensive breakdown of Australian transport and logistics costs for different commodities and regions, supporting informed decision making.

The first prototype dashboard is in development, planned for release mid-2021.

international data collection

Activity 3: International data collection

This project is to undertake a broad collection of international data to be integrated with the Australian data in the dashboard. International supply chain data will be collected, collated, and analysed to produce a series of international comparison assessments. This project is planned for completion between May and September 2021.


The Department acknowledges the generous participation of over 150 industry and other stakeholders, as part of the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy. Such contributions make the project feasible, and help ensure its outputs deliver on the identified need for integrated data to evaluate Australia’s supply chains against international comparators.


For further information contact: