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Budget honours commitment to food industry.

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Media Release Monday, 15 May 2002

BUDGET HONOURS COMMITMENT TO FOOD INDUSTRY The $102 million National Food Industry Strategy provides a springboard for the future of Australia's largest manufacturing industry - the processed food and beverages sector.

The Australian Food and Grocery Council's Acting Chief Executive, Harris Boulton, said the initiative, announced in the Federal Budget last night, was a major boost for the food industry generally and particularly rural and regional Australia, where around half the food industry's businesses and employees are located.

"The establishment of the National Food Industry Strategy will allow for a coordinated approach to tackle the major issues facing the industry including export growth, increased research and development, and environmental sustainability," Mr Boulton said.

"This $102 million Budget allocation recognises the value of the sector to the Australian economy and to future employment growth - particularly in light of significant spending cuts in other areas.

"This strategy was initiated by the food and grocery industry and has its full support."

The AFGC welcomes the strong economic forecast for 2002-2003, based on improved business investment and continued strength in household consumption expenditure. The Government's commitment to continued business tax reform is crucial to the growth of the industry.

The AFGC also acknowledges the Government's commitment to the environment with the allocation of more than $100 million next financial year to the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality and continued support for partnerships with industry including incentives for the development of environmental management systems in Australian agriculture.

"The National Food Industry Strategy will be the foundation to a critical partnership between government and all sectors of the food industry to ensure that Australia is not sidelined as a global supplier of safe, modern food and beverage products," Mr Boulton said.

The food and grocery industry is the fastest growing manufacturing employer in regional Australia. The sector created more than 10,000 jobs in the decade to 1996, at a growth rate of 18 per cent. It has an annual turnover of about $50 billion, employs 166,000 Australians, and

adds 2.5 per cent to total GDP. It is only one of two manufacturing industries in Australia that are net exporters. 

The Australian Food and Grocery Council represents Australia's food, drink and grocery companies.  Website

Further information contact Anna Greco on (02) 6273 1466 or 0417 667 169.