Coles chief addressing food security at conference

Food security will be the major focus of Coles supermarket boss John Durkin’s address to a major food conference later this month.

The Australian Meat Industry Council will hold its 2011 Meat Industry Conference on the Gold Coast on 24 and 25 August.

Durkin, the supermarket giant’s director of merchandise, will discuss the current trends in retailing and merchandising in Australia and will share his views on recent trends and developments.

Coles was in hot water earlier in the year over allegations it was hurting the dairy industry when it slashed milk prices to $1 per litre.

It was embroiled in a pricing debate with Woolworths, and was accused of taking advantage of its market power to damage the competitive ability of other retailers.

But last month the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) cleared the supermarket giant of any wrongdoing in the case.

Before being employed with Coles three years ago, Durkin spent 17 years with UK retailer Safeway, leaving his well-equipped to comment on the industry.

He was instrumental in introducing Coles’ hormone free beef earlier this year.

The conference, which is run under the theme “Food Security – Today’s Challenge, Tomorrow’s market,” will also hear from former Under Security for Food Safety in the United States, Richard Raymond.

Raymond was heavily involved in negotiations that developed improved testing protocol for E coli in imported meat.

He will share his opinions on the current state of economics and trade in between the US and Australia, and what Australia will need to do over the next decade to maintain market access and competitiveness.

The conference will also feature two in-depth presentations on the two major developing markets for Australian beef export – Indonesia and China.

Other presentations will address key issues for the meat industry, including the carbon tax, meat inspection reforms, shipping an transport and climate change.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has also been invited to attend the conference, which expects to attract close to 300 senior meat industry executives from all over the world including Australia, North America, New Zealand and Asia.



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