Food and grocery body pushes for strategic approach
The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) is warning that the sector needs a more coordinated policy and funding approach in order to expand and realise its potential.
During a senate inquiry into the state of Australian manufacturing, AFGC CEO Tanya Barden argued that careful investment and targeted policy changes could see the food and grocery industry, Australia’s largest manufacturing sector, blossom.
The comments come on the back of disappointment from the industry over the level of grants and funding allocated as part of the Modern Manufacturing Initiative. $33 million was provided as part of the initiative thus far, which has proven to be a disappointing amount despite the food and grocery sector being named as one of the six national manufacturing priority areas.
“The pace at getting the dollars rolled out has been slower than anticipated and the level of funding coming forward has been lower than anticipated. Currently we have capital investment of around $3 billion per annum. We need to grow that to about $7.5 billion per annum and yet recently we’ve seen $33m granted through one element of the Modern Manufacturing Strategy,” Barden said.
The industry has faced rising input costs over the last decade and wholesale prices have not increased in tandem to this, resulting in a low level of profitability. This, Barden argues, is a primary reason for why further investment is needed in new product development, sustainable packaging, advanced manufacturing and digital technologies, along with new strategic approaches to regulation, skills development and industry support.
The Sustaining Australia report from AFGC puts forward a potential doubling of the sector by 2030, along with an increase of employment by over 50%, if new strategies are adopted.
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