Australia's Food System – a new narrative
It is clear that Australia’s food manufacturing sector has enormous growth opportunities. Recently, Food Innovation Australia Ltd (FIAL), amongst others, have provided strong evidence to propose a potential increase of AUD$200 billion by 2030 … “which would almost triple the current size of Australia’s food and agri-business sector”.
But how do we work to realise this potential?
This paper provides a synthesis of much that has come before and we commend those reports to you, as they contain much useful data, information, and analysis outside the scope of this paper, leavened and enriched by contemporary opinion provided during one-on-one interviews with 26 industry leaders.
Perhaps the most important message arising from this review was the need to reimagine the way we understand and manage food production in Australia – to think about an Australian food system, not just ‘agriculture’, ‘production’ or ‘manufacturing’ silos.
There has been, in recent years, a plethora of reports and papers and opinion regarding the opportunities and threats facing Australian food producers – typically focussing on either side of an artificial divide between what have become known as “pre-“ and “post-“ farm gate domains.
These reports all provide their own value, and – reassuringly – their narratives all seem to be pointing us in the same direction. But there is something missing – there does not appear to have been any great call to action.
To that end, this report presents a series of recommendations arising from our review of contemporary information and from our discussions with industry experts.
While priorities will change as the operating environment also inevitably changes, these recommendations point to some key activities that will help governments develop a clearer picture about what their food policy is and how they are going to support it.
The main recommendation coming out of it is:
That the Australian Government works with food system stakeholders to establish an industry-led, food system strategic advisory body, chaired at the Ministerial level, to develop a National Food Plan.
If the Australian food system is to be positioned to take advantage of the huge opportunities foreseen by our experts, and to mitigate the threats, a serious, nationally coordinated approach to food must be prioritised so that it is led by industry with true commitment, collaboration and support from the highest levels of government.
We have the information. We have the expertise. We now just need to get on with it.