The Australian food industry faces a "perfect storm" of pressures, according to the AFGC

The Australian food industry faces a "perfect storm" of pressures, according to the AFGC

A total of 130,000 food industry jobs could be lost by 2020, according to a report commissioned by the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC).

The organisation forecasts that retailer concentration, a high-value Australian dollar, low-cost country manufacturing, energy prices, intense promotional activity and global commodity volatility may cause employment levels to fall from 312,000 to around 180,000, hitting New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria hardest.

A further 6,000 jobs could be lost in associated industries including agriculture, added the report, titled 2020: Industry at a Crossroads.

The AFGC said the country's A$108bn (US$111.98bn) food and grocery sector is experiencing a "perfect storm" of pressures and calls for a "greater national policy focus" to secure growth.

Kate Carnell, chief executive of the AFGC, said: "Without question, the food and grocery manufacturing industry is at a critical crossroads.

"We've already seen job cuts in the sector over recent months. Leading food and grocery manufacturers - the economic lifeblood and social fabric of many regional towns - are assessing how to maintain operations and competitiveness in the current environment. If companies have to downsize there are regularly flow-on implications for the wider agrifoods and dependent farming sectors.

"Our industry's competitiveness and future sustainability is under threat, emphasising the urgent need to have a greater national policy focus to allow the industry to continue to grow and employ."