National Farmers' Federation

Food industry warns government of long-term food supply chain disruptions

The National Food Supply Chain Alliance, made up of nine influential national food industry associations, says long term supply chain issues, including ongoing natural disasters and labour shortages, are set to increase food prices for the foreseeable future. It says recent threats have laid bare Australia’s food supply chain’s dependencies, risks, and vulnerabilities.

The Alliance, which represents every component of the nation’s domestic food supply chain from paddock to plate, says the threats are unprecedented in scale and that the only solution to stabilising future food price fluctuations and reducing food shortages is to urgently establish the nation’s first ever ‘National Food Security Plan’.

The Alliance has, over the past two days, met with government and the opposition to explain the risks to the economy and Australians’ wellbeing should a National Plan not be developed and implemented as a matter of urgency. It says all the potential disruptors to the nation’s food supply chain have never been brought together under ‘one’ co-ordinated national strategy.

Co-incidentally, the just released State of the Climate Report by the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology, says more droughts, heatwaves, and bushfires, along with heavier bursts of flooding rain are forecast.

80% of Australians are concerned about rising food and grocery prices and Foodbank’s 2022 Hunger report says two million Australians are struggling to put food on the table and that this is impacting 1.3 million children.

Other current and potential disruptors impacting Australia’s food supply chain include global geopolitical tensions, transport and logistics issues, financial challenges through rising cost of business, and future human and animal disease outbreaks.

The Alliance believes government, opposition and industry must work together to fully understand the complexities of the food supply chain and examine how specific events might impact the various pieces of the food supply chain jigsaw puzzle. This approach must incorporate the entire ‘living’ food supply chain eco-system, from paddock to plate, encompassing production, processing, distribution, retail, consumption, and disposal.

From the perspective of both government and industry, research has shown there are many social and economic benefits from a more efficient, more sustainable, and self-sufficient national food supply chain. It will provide more stability to food related businesses, boost innovation and technology, enhance the nation’s food processing capacity, create jobs and, most importantly, provide the community with the confidence it needs in the nation’s food security.

Recommendation to Government: That Australia urgently establish a National Food Security Plan. That a Food Industry Working Group, representing all facets of the supply chain, be established to partner with Government to design the framework for the National Plan.

What is the National Food Supply Chain Alliance: The National Food Supply Chain Alliance (NFSCA) represents all facets of Australia’s food supply chain from farmers, processors, grocers and butchers, independent supermarkets, convenience stores, wholesale suppliers and distributors to food retailers including cafes, restaurants, hotels, and clubs. In total, the nine national food industry associations represent over 165,000 businesses with a combined revenue of a staggering $200 billion and who employ almost 1 million workers.

The Associations include: The National Farmers Federation (NFF), Australian Meat Industry Council, (AMIC), Independent Food Distributors Australia (IFDA), Master Grocers Australia (MGA), the Australian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS), AUSVEG, Seafood Industry Australia (SIA), the Restaurant and Catering Industry Association and the Refrigerated Warehouse and Transport Association of Australia.