Speaking at the Global Food Forum this morning in Melbourne, News Limited Chief Executive, Kim Williams challenged Australian food producers to meet the food needs of a growing global population.

The Global Food Forum is a landmark conference taking place today which is exploring the potential for agriculture to become Australia’s next great economic boom industry.

“Australian vegetable growers have acknowledged these challenges outlined by Mr Williams and are rising to meet them, with several new initiatives aimed at providing food for our global neighbours,” said AUSVEG Chief Executive Officer, Richard Mulcahy.

AUSVEG is the National Peak Industry Body representing Australia’s 9,000 vegetable and potato growers.

“In his address to the forum this morning, the Executive Chairman of Visy, Mr Anthony Pratt spoke of Australia as the ‘clean, green food bowl’ and stated that ‘helping to feed a hungry world is Australia’s most important responsibility’. The sentiment of these words could not be more closely aligned with the priorities of the Australian vegetable industry and I am proud to say that our growers are rising to this challenge,” said Mr Mulcahy.

The Australian vegetable industry is investing in several research and market development projects which aim to increase the export market for Australian grown produce.

These projects include a Reverse Trade Mission, where key food retailers and providores from Asia are bought to Australia to see first-hand the quality of Australian produce. Another initiative is an Exporting to China symposium, being held in June, where Australian vegetable growers can learn more about the opportunities and pitfalls of the Chinese market. There will also be an Australian produce stand at the Asia Fruit Logistica, Asia’s leading trade show for the international fresh fruit and vegetable business.

“These initiatives will allow Australian growers to rise to the challenges outlined by Mr Williams at this morning’s forum and achieve our potential as an exporting nation,” said Mr Mulcahy.

In his address to the Forum, Anthony Pratt acknowledged that the Australian food processing sector was struggling and stated that to reinvigorate the industry, there was a need to suspend payroll tax for food manufacturers, as well as change anti-dumping legislation so offending parties have to prove that they are not dumping product on Australian shores.

“The changes recommended by Mr Pratt, and others at the forum, would be the first steps to achieving the export market we need to capitalise on in the emerging Asian market. The food industry in Australia is facing many challenges, but also our nation has an incredible opportunity to transition from the mining boom we find ourselves in at the moment, to a ‘dining boom’ that we can sustain into the future as the global need for clean, high-quality food increases,” said Mr Mulcahy.

The aforementioned research and market development projects are funded by Horticulture Australia Limited and matched funds from the Australian Government.

MEDIA CONTACT: Hugh Gurney: Senior Communications Officer, AUSVEG
Phone: (03) 9822 0388 Mobile: 0410 047 432 E-mail : hugh.gurney@ausveg.com.au