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Imports hurt Australian food sector

Imports hurt Australian food sector article image
Falling exports and rising imports will damage Australia’s $102 billion food and grocery industry, according to a new report by the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) and KPMG. The annual State of the Industry 2010 report details the pressure the sector has come under in the last six years, underlining the $4.5 billion surplus in 2004/05 to a $1.8 billion deficit in 2009/10. "This alarming result shows food and grocery manufacturing-which employs 288,000 people-is now a net importer of food and grocery products which impacts industry’s growth and competitiveness," said AFGC chief executive Kate Carnell. "Industry is still a major exporter but imports are rising fast, eroding the trade surplus historically enjoyed by the industry. To protect Australia’s food supply and overcome this challenge, there must be a ‘whole-of-government’ national strategy to ensure food and grocery manufacturing’s long-term growth, increase export earnings and boost competitiveness." The report also recognised the importance of protecting the future needs of industry in terms of job growth and investment as well as meeting the significant food supply needs into the future. "The industry employs more than three percent of all employed people in Australia but lost 3,400 jobs since 2006/07. The sector pays wages of more than $13 billion a year," said Carnell. "There are also real challenges facing the industry including the increasing cost of energy, availability of water, the surging Australian dollar and the availability and cost of good employees." Download the full report State of the Industry 2010: Essential Facts and Figures at www.afgc.org.au.

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