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Country of origin food labelling needs overhaul:

Australian fruit and vegetable growers are under the pump - but imports are increasing.
By Motherpedia
Date: April 30 2013
Tags: food, shopping,
Editor Rating:

While more and more Australian food processing companies go out of business or struggle to stay in business, Australians are buying more and more imported fruit and vegetables. 

According to AUSVEG, the national peak body representing Australia's 9,000 vegetable and potato growers, this puts sector is in a "crisis".

A government report on Australia's food statistics shows that processed fruit and vegetables were the largest proportion of imported food between 2010 and 2012. Australia has long been a 'net exporter' of food - meaning that we export more food than we import. The value of food exports in 2011-12 was $30.5 billion, while imports totalled $11.3 billion. While this is a significant trade surplus, Australia is ranked only 10th in the world as a nation with a food trade surplus - a statistic surprising to many who see Australia as a 'food bowl' capable of feeding our own people as well as others throughout the world.

"The value of imported processed fruit and vegetables increased by $264 million over five years," according to the spokesperson for AUSVEG, Hugh Gurney. 

"Like dominoes, Australian food processors are toppling over in their tracks. Government action is essential if we want to continue to feed our own country in the very near future," Mr Gurney said.

The government report shows that New Zealand is the country where Australia gets most of its imported food but Mr Gurney says this is "especially frightening".

"The fact is New Zealand imports Chinese produce, processes it in New Zealand and then exports it to countries like Australia under the guise of 'Made in New Zealand with local and imported ingredients'.

"The safety and quality of vegetables produced in China cannot be guaranteed as they are not grown to the same standards required here in Australia - or New Zealand."

Mr Gurney also said that ABC media reports earlier in the year that Chinese farming practices could lead to food being imported that contained antibiotic resistant bacteria.

AUSVEG would like to see Australians buy more Australian food prodcuts and is advocating for an overhaul of Country of Origin Labelling rules so we can make more informed choices about food.

"This would help Australians to better distinguish top-shelf, Aussie produce that is safe to eat from its often inferior counterparts," Mr Gurney said.

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