Dollar’s slide must continue, says food manufacturers

Food manufacturers across the country breathed a collective sigh of relief on Friday when, for the first time in almost a year, the dollar fell below parity against the greenback.

But that doesn't mean the troubles are behind manufacturers, who are arguing that the dollar needs to fall much further to fight off the wave of cheap imports threatening homegrown brands.

According to the Australian, Gary Dawson, chief executive at the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC), said the dollar needs to fall closer to US76c.

"There's no doubt the high dollar has a significantly negative effect on the competitiveness of food manufacturing in Australia, so the recent falls are welcome. But it would need to move lower for longer to start having some impact," he said.

A spokesperson from Ferrier Hodgson, the administrators for Rosella, which collapsed late last year, said the high Aussie dollar had caused supermarkets to look towards imported private label products, but said even if the dollar had dropped by 10 percent it probably wouldn't have been enough to save the brand.

Coca-Cola Amatil also entered into the debate, claiming cheap imported tinned fruits contributed to the recent struggles of its SPC Ardmona brand, which has suffered a nine percent drop in first-half earnings.

However, managing director Terry Davis said the dollar's slide will make some imported goods more expensive.

"The softening of the Australian dollar against the euro is better news as this will help inflate the prices of the very cheap imported fruit and tomatoes coming in from European markets which have been flooding our domestic markets," he said.


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