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Wednesday, 10 October 1973
Page: 1819

Mr OLDMEADOW (HOLT, VICTORIA) - Is the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry aware of reports of food shortages in some lines? Have these reports any validity and, if so, what are the shortages and how can they be overcome?

Mr GRASSBY - My attention was drawn to some reports of alleged shortages of some processed foodstuffs. I did look into this as a matter of very keen interest and concern to all of us and discovered that, in fact, there had been a suggestion by a processor that he was not obtaining the supplies of the product that he sought. However, this was essentially related to the price that was offering. In some cases, of course, there has been no effective increase for 10 years in the producers' return on some of these lines. As a matter of fact, in one particular instance a product which was produced for, I think, something like 3.5c per lb had retailed for many years at 26c and 27c per lb. My own impression and information is that if beef prices in the saleyards dropped by SO per cent per lb in the morning, the steak would still cost the same as before in Sydney, Melbourne and the other cities. I certainly will draw the attention of the Minister for Primary Industry to the concern expressed by the honourable member and I will also ask the Minister to use every device at his disposal to probe the very long pipeline of costs between the consumer and the producer, or vice versa, because it seems to me that this is where most of the trouble in relation to high food prices lies at present.

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