“The rise of Asia is transforming the world,” Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig said. “By 2050 world food consumption is expected to be 75 percent higher than in 2007, and almost half of this increased demand will come from China alone. Australia will never be able to put food on every table in Asia, but an expanding Asian middle class offers an important opportunity for Australia’s food industry.”
Australia exports A$30.5 billion ($29.4 billion) of food per year and produces enough to feed the nation of 23 million people twice over, according to the National Food Plan released by Ludwig in Brisbane today. Fifteen percent of the nation’s workforce is involved in food production, which is the biggest employer in rural and regional Australia, he said.
Australia in November signed into law a plan to boost the amount of water returned to the Murray-Darling Basin and ensure sustainable food production. The system, which extends from southern Queensland to South Australia, covers 14 percent of Australia’s land and produces more than one-third of the nation’s food including wheat and dairy.
“While we will continue to be a reliable and trusted supplier of quality staple foods there is also an opportunity to supply growing markets with high-value food products that meet increasing preferences for safe, premium goods,” Ludwig said. “However, the competition will be fierce and we will have to work to seize this opportunity, building on our strengths, such as our proximity to Asia and the skills and capabilities of our workforce.”
He said the plan is backed by initiatives including: A$28.5 million for an Asian Food Markets Research Fund; strengthening Asian trade ties by investing A$5.6 million to give agriculture a “stronger, government endorsed voice” in key markets; A$2 million to develop Australia’s own recognized food brand; a Productivity Commission review to identify priority areas for reforming food supply chain regulations; and the establishment of an Australian Council on Food.
“Our food supply chain has a strong foundation, with high levels of food security and hardworking producers,” Ludwig said. “Like others around the world, there are challenges including climate change, population growth, diet-related health issues, and competition for resources. There are also enormous opportunities, including the rise of Asia.”
Australia is the third-largest beef shipper and was the biggest wheat exporter after the U.S. last season.
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