The Australian food industry has called for the introduction of a Carbon Pollution Reductions Scheme that would protect Australian food manufacturers from cheap imports.

"It is industry's view that any emissions trading scheme which does not include international emitters represents a real threat to the packaged food and grocery industry," Kate Carnell, chief executive of the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) said in a statement today (15 September).

The AFGC said that it supports the establishment of a carbon import levy, which would "allow Australian industry to compete with imports from countries that do not have a carbon trading scheme or tax".

The food industry body said that this was necessary as obligations imposed on the Australian food supply chain meant that carbon costs would be passed to consumers through higher grocery prices.

"For Australian industry to continue to provide a high-quality, value-added product derived from Australian agricultural ingredients, requires the sector to have faith in an emissions trading framework, which gives companies incentives to reduce their carbon emissions whilst maintaining their international competiveness," Carnell concluded.

The Australian government is mulling climate change legislation in a Green Paper but its proposals have come under heavy fire from industry, which has emphasised the need for global agreement if Australia is to avoid being undermined by business competition.