Australia’s Senate has passed a motion to establish a Select Committee on the country’s food manufacturing sector in a move that has been welcomed by the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC).

The motion – moved by Tasmanian Senator Richard Colebeck, who consulted with industry about its content – was passed in the Senate 34 to 32 votes. The committee is expected to investigate the competitiveness and future viability of Australia’s food processing sector as well assess constraints in the current regulatory environment, including food labelling.

AFGC Chief Executive Kate Carnell said the committee was vital to flesh out issues affecting industry’s competitiveness especially, considering the serious pressures facing Australia’s largest manufacturing sector – food and grocery.

“It’s important to get these issues on the table and debated by political leaders as the food and grocery manufacturing industry – which employs 288,000 people – is weathering a ‘perfect storm’,” Carnell said.

“Industry is under growing pressure from rising input costs such as energy, wages and water, higher transport costs, record high global commodity prices and supermarkets forcing down retail prices which is seriously impacting margins.”

Carnell warned that is food processing in Australia were to become unsustainable, manufacturers could look to move off shore. She added that the industry looked forward to working closely with the Select Committee members to address these key issues.

Australian Food News is Australia’s leading resource for the food industry, delivering daily news from the grocery, retail and hospitality sectors to 40,000 professionals each month.