The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) annual industry snapshot ‘State of the Industry 2015’ report, released this week, shows a 28 per cent surge in Australia’s food and beverage exports in 2014-15, underpinning growth in the food and grocery sector despite challenging economic conditions.
AFGC CEO Gary Dawson says the report, compiled by EY (Ernst & Young), highlights strong export growth and a lift in overall industry turnover and employment in Australia’s largest manufacturing sector.
“Food and grocery processing makes up almost one-third of Australia’s manufacturing sector and it’s encouraging to see growth in both industry turnover and jobs,” he said.
“An extra 3,183 jobs were created last year to bring direct employment in the industry to 322,000, with 41 per cent of those in rural and regional Australia.
“Growth prospects for the future are strong, reflected in surging food exports in recent years. In 2014-15, processed food and beverage exports were up 28 per cent, or almost $6 billion, to $26 billion, and the trade surplus almost doubled to $10 billion.
“The falling Australian dollar and improved market access flowing from trade agreements are improving the competitiveness of Australian food and beverage exports in key market and, along with Australia’s reputation for safe, high-quality food, this is driving export growth.”
The report reveals industry turnover of $118.8 billion, up 0.9 per cent in real terms (2013-14 data), and direct employment of 322,900, up 3,183, or one per cent (2014-15 data).
“Australia’s food and grocery sector transforms the produce from our farms into the food and other essentials of life needed by every consumer, every day,” Mr Dawson said.
One area of weakness exposed in the State of the Industry 2015 report, he says, is capital investment, “which is falling at a time when a lift in investment is vital for the Australian food and grocery sector to scale up and meet the opportunities of the future”.
“Future growth to fully capitalise on improved market access and growing demand from middle-class consumers in the emerging economies of Asia and the Middle East will require a step change in investment in the food and grocery sector,” Mr Dawson said.