Global demand for nutritious, sustainable food is set to double by 2050 and the Gillard Labor Government is helping our food industry keep pace.
Addressing the Australian Food and Grocery Council Leaders Conference, Innovation Minister Senator Kim Carr highlighted the importance of innovation in the sector to improve competitiveness and the need to break down the barriers between researchers, industry and government.
Senator Carr was launching the Australian Food and Grocery Councilâs State of the Industry Report 2010, which updates information on the size and performance of Australiaâs food and grocery industry.
âA strong food processing industry is critical to our economy, our environment, and our way of life,â Senator Carr said.
âIn the years ahead we will rely on our food processing sector to help us meet some of Australiaâs most pressing challenges, from climate change to rising obesity levels. Those challenges are undoubtedly complex, and no-one can solve them alone.
âThe Innovation portfolio supports all parts of the food industry, so it is well placed to assist industry adapt to modern challenges. And we also help businesses work in partnership with our leading researchers.
âWe all need to work together to grow the sustainable and competitive food manufacturing industry Australians need.â
Work is already underway to harness expertise from across industry, primary producers and researchers, through programs like the CSIROâs Food Futures Flagship.
This program aims to apply frontier technologies to high-potential industries, and transform the international competitiveness of the Australian agri-food sector. It harnesses expertise from industry and other organisations like ANSTO, state and federal departments and our universities on exciting new projects.
Senator Carr said that over 300 small and medium-sized businesses in the food processing sector had already been assisted by Enterprise Connect.
He announced that Enterprise Connect would establish a Food Processing Industry Support Network to enhance the business development and innovation services provided to the industry.
Senator Carr highlighted that the proposed new tax credit for research and development will promote collaboration and innovation throughout the food industry.
Senator Carr invited members of the Australian Food and Grocery Council to join him in establishing a Food Processing Industry Strategy Group to explore the development of an innovation strategy for the sector.
âThere are few things more important to our future than making sure that we have a viable food industry. By working together, we can achieve this,â Senator Carr said.