A Federal Election campaign pledge by the Australian Greens to use the $2.5-4 million obtained from a ‘junk’ food levy to promote fruit and vegetable consumption was today welcomed by the Peak Industry Body for Australia?s 9,000 potato and vegetable growers, AUSVEG.

President of the Vegetable Growers Association of Victoria, Mr Luis Gazzola, has been in the industry for over 50 years and he said he supported any initiative which would promote more vegetable consumption.

“The vegetable industry has been calling for more support on this for a long time. While $2.5-4 million is not a massive amount in marketing terms, it?s definitely a step in the right direction and we are fully supportive of the policy,” said Mr Gazzola.

Victorian Greens Senate candidate, Dr Richard Di Natale, said in announcing the policy that the funds would be used to encourage healthy eating in the community.

“The health benefits of vegetables and the role that they can play in preventative health are well-known. You only have to observe the rising incidence of obesity and type 2 diabetes in Australia to understand that there is a need for strong leadership on this issue,” Mr Gazzola said.

“We believe the long-term benefits for the health system in terms of easing the costs associated with preventative illnesses and diseases could be substantial,” he said.

“Redirecting these funds to assist everyday Australians in consumption of more fruit and vegetables can only be a good thing for the community, growers and struggling rural economies.”

AUSVEG has been talking to the Australian Greens informally about policy development for some time.

“We’re very pleased that they’ve put this forward for consideration and growers will certainly be very supportive,” Mr Gazzola said.

AUSVEG understands that under the plan a 1.5 per cent levy would be imposed on alcohol and „junk? food advertisements, but advertisers could choose between the option of including health information in their advertising or to pay the levy.

“This is not about having a go at particular companies. This is about ensuring that we are taking the right steps in the food industry to support healthy eating and a healthier society,” Mr Gazzola said.

“We hope that this will encourage people to eat locally produced vegetable products and support Australian growers, many of whom are doing it tough right now. Australian vegetable growers produce some of the finest quality produce in the world. It’s important that the vegetable story continues to be told so we can raise awareness and ultimately change consumption patterns.”

“While we may not support all of the Greens policies, this is one policy that has our support. We would be keen to see other political parties pick up on this agenda,” Mr Gazzola said.


MEDIA CONTACT: Andrew White, Senior Communications Officer, AUSVEG
Phone: (03) 9822 0388, Mobile: 0409 989 575, Email: andrew.white@ausveg.com.au