More food jobs will be lost: AFGC

The leading industry body for the food industry has warned of more job losses and competitiveness in the sector, off the back of the BlueScope Steel decision to slash 1000 jobs.

It was denied that the move was a result of the carbon tax, and instead blamed on the strong Australian dollar.

Now the Australian Food and Grocery Council has warned the country’ largest manufacturing sector – food and grocery – will also be impacted.

It says in the last two months, about 300 job cuts have been announced in the sector, including 150 at SPC Ardmona’s Mooroopna factory and 146 at Heinz’s Girgarre facility.

AFGC Chef Executive Kate Carnell said several food and grocery manufacturing operations have already moved offshore because of the challenges industry is facing.

“Industry is facing a growing list of pressures across Australia’s long supply chain, such high labour prices, less flexibility on wages, higher energy power prices, high transport costs, growth in private label brands and near record global commodity prices for sugar, diary, cocoa and wheat,” she said.

“Industry’s competitiveness is being heavily impacted by cheaper imports due to the high Australian dollar.

“The weak retail sector is causing more discounting and adversely affecting margins.

“It’s also bad timing for the Federal Government’s carbon tax, which is another new cost to industry.”

Carnell said for industry to stay competitive, the government needs to remove unnecessary regulation and duplication, including food labelling changes, and also reduce the costs of doing business.

“We need Government to support a business environment where companies can innovate and value-add to remain competitive,” Carnell said.

“At the moment, many leading food and grocery companies are seriously weighing up their future options for manufacturing in Australia.”
Carnellhas called on the government to speed up the National Food Plan for Australia.

“It’s vital that the Government creates a broad-base policy that supports a viable, competitive and robust food and grocery manufacturing sector that will continue to deliver high quality products for Australia and the export market,” she said.

“Australians don’t want to be increasingly reliant on imports for the foods we eat!”

Image: The Herald Sun

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