Cheap imports hurting Australian food manufacturers: AMWU

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union’s Tim Ayres has blamed private label products for Rosella’s woes.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union’s Tim Ayres has blamed private label products for Rosella’s woes.

Ayres, writing in today’s Daily Telegraph, recalled the uncertainty that workers at Rosella suffered when the brands' owner, Gourmet Food Holdings, went into voluntary administration recently.

He also pointed to the competition faced by local manufacturers by imports, made cheaper by the competitive Australian dollar, and the concentration of supermarket ownership.

Many of the private label products in supermarket contain cheap imported goods.

“Australian food manufacturing is under enormous pressure from cheaper imported food products, from the high Australian dollar and from the two major supermarkets who use their market share – as much as 80 per cent of the grocery market, up from 50 per cent in the 1990s – to squeeze maximum profits from every link in the food distribution chain,” wrote Ayres.

“NSW has shed thousands of food processing jobs over the past decade as manufacturers buckle under these pressures.”

Ayres suggested that clearer country of origin labeling would assist consumers to buy Australian products.

Others, such as the Australian Food and Grocery Council, have pointed to the difficulties local food manufacturers have been exposed to by the supermarkets’ in-house brands.

Research by IBISWorld released in June showed that private label-branded products currently account for over a quarter of groceries sold, with that proportion on the way up.