Minister says food and beverage industry pillar of strength in manufacturing

The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) has welcomed comments by the Federal Minister for Industry, Hon Karen Andrews at the National Press Club that again confirms the strengths of Australia’s food, beverage and grocery manufacturing sector.

The $122.1 billion Australian food, beverage and grocery manufacturing sector is the biggest manufacturing sector with 273,000 jobs and is a backbone to regional Australia.

During the speech, the Minister called out this sector as essential and noted that Australia is well regarded internationally for the food products that we make.

“While the supermarkets kept their doors open, it was the food and grocery manufacturers and suppliers working around the clock 24/7 that stepped up to keep their shelves stocked with the essential products needed by Australians week after week during the COVID-19 crisis” said AFGC acting CEO Dr Geoffrey Annison.

Annison said that while we make safe, nutritious food here and enough for 75 million people, we also value add to the raw commodities from our farms and sell that to the world. Our exports are worth nearly $35 billion with a strong import trade as well bringing in ingredients to add to the products we make here.

“Manufacturing is alive and well in Australia and with the support from the Federal Government through either reducing red tape, short term incentives and allowances and helping business to navigate new markets, we have had the confidence and ability to remain strong during the COVID-19 crisis,” Annison said.

“While this sector is vital and strong, the AFGC will work with Government to shape the future landscape for manufacturing in Australia as laid out by Minister Andrews. Building competitiveness is a priority especially as global competition is likely to be fierce as other countries look to Australia as a potential market for their industries, and will not hesitate to take share from Australia in export markets.”

Food sector features heavily in export hub initiative

Using learnings and insights from Food Innovation Australia Limited’s (FIAL) Cluster Programme, the government announced the Small and Medium Enterprises Export Hubs Initiative in 2018 – a $20m initiative to support cluster development across Australia. This week, the 10 successful applicants were revealed, seven of which have a strong focus on the food and agribusiness sector.

According to a recent media release from the government, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews was quoted as saying that the export hubs funding will boost the economy by getting more businesses access to new and bigger markets, to increase sales and create more Australian jobs. Export hubs are business clusters that help small and medium businesses harness opportunities in international markets, particularly where the Government has signed free trade agreements.

FIAL’s own cluster programme was a first-of-its-kind initiative launched in late 2017 to encourage businesses, researchers and government to unite and work together to solve problems that they otherwise couldn’t solve on their own. In doing so, clusters encourage greater connectivity and collaboration in regions and cities across the Australian food and agribusiness sector.

Dr Mirjana Prica, managing director of FIAL, said that she is particularly proud of the SME Export Hubs, an initiative that FIAL helped develop along with support from the other Industry Growth Centres.

“An exciting journey begins for the winners. We look forward to supporting them by sharing knowledge, building capability and creating connections to help them drive success for their regions,”  Prica said.

Here are the successful applicants focussed on the food and agribusiness industry:

  • Food South Australia Incorporated
  • Regional Development Australia – Northern Rivers
  • Hunternet Co-operative Limited
  • TSBE Export and Investment Development Limited
  • East Gippsland Food Cluster Incorporated
  • Australian Wagyu Association Ltd
  • Agribusiness Regional Development Association