Concerns over imported food

Sydney-based law firm Baker & McKenzie has released a report “Food Security – fact or fiction?” which warns that Australians will rely more on imported food, as local produce becomes more costly.

The report, which surveyed 162 senior executives from 11 sectors across Australia, found that Australia exports a high proportion of unprocessed food, while increasingly importing processed food.

Australia’s trade surplus in processed food products has declined from $10.6 billion in 2005 to $7.4 billion in 2010.

Many Australian food and drink companies are subsidiaries of multinationals, and import food ingredients to manufacture products in Australia. This adds to the amount of food which is imported. Additionally, the high Australian dollar is making it more attractive to import foods over exporting.

The report highlighted the interconnectivity between Australia and the rest of the world as a factor critical to food security. Those surveyed tended to view foreign investment as a serious threat to food security, preferring higher trade barriers. These sentiments reflect a degree of protectionism within the Australian industry.

The report said major factors affecting Australia’s net trade in food in recent years include the growing strength of the Australian dollar, making it more attractive to import food ingredients, while curbing the value of exports.

The Baker & McKenzie research also found that industry is generally open to R&D in genetically engineered foods and biofuels.

Image: Trade Compliance Blog

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