Food, grocery manufacturers to help design policy framework

Australia’s largest manufacturing sector – food and grocery – will contribute to the Federal Government’s new working group to advise on a strategic policy framework for Australia’s food industry.

Federal Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig has chaired the first 13-member forum, which includes AFGC, designed to engage the food industry and government and foster a common understanding of the industry’s priorities, challenges and future.

The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) deputy chief executive, Dr Geoffrey Annison, says that over the past two years, Australia’s food and grocery manufacturers have been calling for a National Food and Grocery Strategy and the working group was an important first step.

Food and grocery is Australia’s largest manufacturing sector worth more than $102 billion annually in turn-over to the nation and employs 288,500 people across Australia, including more than 150,000 in rural and regional Australia.

“Industry is under immense pressure at the moment and it’s encouraging that the Government says it wants to adopt the same ‘strategic approach to food manufacturing’ that has been taken with the car industry,” Dr Annison said.

“Having a partnership approach for the group involving relevant stakeholders and leading food manufacturers – including Simplot Australia – is vital to plan and achieve a whole-of-supply chain strategy to ensure Australia has a safe, nutritious, affordable and sustainable food supply into the future.

“Australians want a robust local food production and processing sector – they don’t want to be increasingly reliant on imports for our food supply.”

Dr Annison said with a growing population and demand for food globally, Australia needs to highlight the importance of research and development for innovation, preventative health issues, water use and sustainability as well as focusing on the whole value chain from farm-gate to the consumer.

“Industry looks forward to working with Government and stakeholders on this important industry blueprint for the future,” Dr Annison said.