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Australia's food sector supporting more jobs in regional areas

Australia’s food and beverage industries supported 14,000 new jobs in 2007-08, with the strongest long-term growth in regional areas, a new report has found.

This included significant new jobs in the dairy and bakery products industries and some jobs growth in the meat and meat products and fruit and vegetable processing sectors.

Overall, the food and beverage sector remains Australia’s largest manufacturing industry and employed around 206,000 people in 2007-08.

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Tony Burke today welcomed the findings, in the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry’s Australian Food Statistics 2008 report.

The report compiles an overview of key trends in the Australian food and beverage industries, including agriculture and fisheries production, export and processing sectors.

Other key findings in the report include:

- the overall value of Australian farm and fisheries food production grew by 18% in the 12 months to 2007-08, to $37.4 billion;
- this followed a decline of 7% in the previous year, largely due to falling crop production related to the drought;
- in 2007-08 Australia’s food exports were worth $23.4 billion, which included increased grain and oilseed exports, and a slight increase in fish or shellfish exports;
- the value of Australia’s wine exports has increased from around 2% of total food export value in 1990-91 to nearly 12% in 2007-08;
- the proportion of food exports to markets such as Indonesia, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand the United Kingdom increased over the long-term; and
- the proportion of food exports to major markets such as the US and Japan decreased over the same period, although they remain our largest food export markets.

The report also shows that around 94% of food imports were processed – not fresh – goods, including processed meat, processed seafood, processed fruit and vegetables, confectionery, beer and malt.

Mr Burke said our farmers were continuing to feed Australia and the world, despite challenges such as the drought and higher input costs.

“This report reinforces Australia’s role as one of the food production hubs of the world,” Mr Burke said.

by S. C.
29 september 2009, World News > Oceania