By Robert Giles, SPC Ardmona chief executive officer
AT SPC, we’re always looking to put Australian food manufacturing on the map, both domestically and globally. As we work to strengthen the industry, ensuring we are leading public discussions around the future of food manufacturing in Australia is a position we take great pride in. We always want to be working collaboratively with our consumers, communities and government to see ongoing growth in Australian made and owned production.
This is why, during February, we welcomed the Victorian government’s commitment of additional funding to offer support to the ongoing labour shortage within fruit picking. We recognised this as a key opportunity to strengthen the frontline of Australian production, ensuring quality and timely harvesting of seasonal fruit. However, this also highlighted the lack of available local workers to undertake this work in the absence of overseas support. While COVID is a temporary obstacle to international travel, we hope government funding remains a long-term solution to bolstering local employment.
While we work to better educate Australian workers about the employment opportunities available to them in Victoria, and across the country, the pandemic has proven our food manufacturing sector relies too heavily on overseas workers. By prioritising Australian labour, we can create a sustainable future for Australian food manufacturing while promoting local economic development.
While we hope to see this reflected throughout the broader industry, we recognise that protecting local jobs often attracts increased investment in hard to fill roles making an ongoing commitment from state and federal funding a must in order to protect the longevity of this initiative.
With consumers more conscious than ever when it comes to sourcing their food, and the environmental impact they are contributing towards, Australian manufacturing has an incredible opportunity to seize. By amplifying industry wide commitments, we can protect future food security, local economies and jobs.
Consumers want locally produced products, grown and sold by Australian companies. Never has there been a more important time for fresh thinking, to create a better food for the future. We’re contributing to this movement by partnering with industry leaders in innovation, and introducing plant-based food alternatives. These plans are all part of our broader strategy to support the national economic recovery through putting Australian high-quality food and drink products on the map.
While the recent funding announcements give us the opportunity to continue growth in this space, we will always keep our consumers and country at the forefront of our thinking. We are passionate about Australia’s long term food security and believe keeping jobs in Australia will be a cornerstone of this foresight, given our governments share this vision. SPC looks forward to further growth across the industry, as we work for better food for the future.