AFGC calls for govt support, CEO resigns

The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) is calling on the Federal Government to ensure support for the local food industry as it begins work on the 2012 Budget

The AFGC has called on similar assistance to that provided to the automotive industry in its Budget 2012-13 Budget Submission, which calls for a Supermarket Fair Trading Code of Conduct and a Supermarket Ombudsman.

The AFGC suggested last year that the appointment of a Supermarket Ombudsman was necessary to oversee the predatory behaviour of the major supermarkets, in terms of pricing, private-label preferences and competitiveness.

The submission also calls on the government to accelerate depreciation provisions for food manufacturers to purchase new plant equipment that will improve productivity and energy efficiency, particularly as the Carbon Tax is set to be introduced this year.

AFGC chief executive Kate Carnell said the government needs to step up and protect Australia’s biggest industry.

“The food industry is not looking for huge hand-outs but we are asking the Government to support a range of initiatives to improve the competitiveness, efficiency and sustainability of the AU$108 billion sector,” she said.

“Food and grocery is Australia’s largest manufacturing industry – four times larger than the automotive sector – employing 312,000 people including half in rural and regional areas.”

Carnell will not be at the AFGC long enough to see if the government delivers on the request, announcing she will be departing in March to take up the chief executive role at depression awareness organisation Beyond Blue.

Carnell has been in the role at the AFGC for more than three years, and chairman John Doumani said in a statement her contribution has been beneficial for the organisation.

“In the three and a half years Kate has served AFGC as CEO, the organisation has gone from strength to strength,” he said.

“Under Kate’s leadership, the group has raised the profile of important issues affecting the industry.
“The establishment of the Food and Health Dialogue, the Food Manufacturing Industry Roundtable, work surrounding the National Food Plan, the annual State of the Industry Report and the 2020 – Industry at a Crossroad Report are just some of the AFGC’s recent achievements,” he said.

Carnell said she knows the organisation will continue to flourish.

“The decision to leave AFGC has been very difficult but I am confident it is in good hands and will continue to professionally and proactively represent the industry, working with government and other stakeholders to ensure the industry has a bright future and consumers continue to have access to high quality, sustainable, healthy and affordable food and grocery brands that they know and trust,” she said.

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