The Federal Government is being urged to follow South Australia’s lead and develop a long-term plan to boost the food and grocery industry’s international competitiveness and growth.
The call, by the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC), follows the release of the South Australian Food Strategy 2010-2015 by the SA Government and the State’s food industry which covers the entire food sector from producers and processors to retailers.
AFGC Chief Executive Kate Carnell said the Federal Government must urgently adopt a similar strategy to safeguard the industry’s future, protect jobs and ensure a sustainable food supply into the future.
“We welcome SA’s move for showing initiative and urge the Federal Government to adopt to a similar strategy to secure sustainable production, processing and distribution systems,” Carnell said.
Food and grocery is Australia’s largest manufacturing sector, worth more than $100 billion annually in turn-over to the nation and employs 315,000 people across Australia with about half in rural and regional centres.
“Many people don’t realise that Australia’s food and grocery sector is comparable to the Australian mining industry — and is more than four times larger than Australia’s automotive industry — that’s why there must be safeguards put in place for the future,” Carnell said.
Over the past 12 months, AFGC has been calling on the Federal Government to establish a National Food and Grocery Agenda to ensure the nation’s long-term health, food supply and to protect thousands of jobs.
“Without a national strategy, Australia’s food manufacturers will increasingly move offshore where costs of production are lower,” Carnell said.
“Australians wants clean, green and affordable Australian manufactured goods – this will only be possible if the industry remains competitive with imported food.
“To achieve this, a national approach to increase production, encourage innovation, deliver a well-trained workforce, provide a cost-effective national transport system and streamline the regulatory environment is essential,” she said.
To find out more about the case for a National Food and Grocery Agenda, visit http://www.afgc.org.au/doc-library/category/11-general-documents.html?download=15%3Afood-and-grocery-agenda-case.