Inquiry releases report on food processing sector

The Senate Select Committee inquiry into the viability and competitiveness of Australia’s food processing sector handed down its final report on August 16.

The inquiry commenced in July last year considering 70 submissions, conducting 15 site visits and holding seven public hearings between December 2011 and May  2012 in Canberra, Sydney, Shepparton, Devonport, Adelaide and Perth.

The report listed 35 recommendations from the committee on issues including:

Research and Development
The committee recommends that the government investigate the effectiveness of research and development in the food processing sector and in doing so consider the following questions: 

  • has been a market failure of research and development in the food processing sector?
  • are food processors relying on research and development conducted by primary producers?
  • is there scope to develop a cooperative research and development approach in the food processing sector similar to rural research and development corporations?
  • do the current arrangements for research and development funding support equity of access, particularly for small and medium enterprises?

The committee recommends that the government consider providing research and development assistance specific to the food processing sector.

Carbon tax
The committee recommends that following the introduction of the carbon price on 1 July 2012, the government monitor:

  • how the big emitters pass on the costs into the food supply chain; and
  • the profitability of businesses in that supply chain, including to farm gate.

Food Labelling
The committee recommends that the government reform country of origin labelling requirements for food so that these requirements are clearer, more transparent and focus on the consumer’s understanding.

Tertiary and higher education providers should engage more directly with food processing businesses about curricula and outcomes to ensure that the skills developed through further education better match those required by industry.

Despite the detail of the report there are senators already claiming that the recommendations do not go far enough and are presenting their own further recommendations.

This Foodmagazine story discusses these further recommendations.
This Beef Central story gives an overview of the report & lists the 35 recommendations.

View the Committee’s full report here