The food industry is integral to Australia’s economic and social prosperity. It consistently accounts for around 20 per cent of manufacturing sales and service income and in 2009–10 it provided jobs for 226,750 Australians. The overwhelming majority of food sold in Australia is grown and supplied by Australian farmers. We are able to export more than half of our agricultural produce, while around 98 per cent of fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, milk and eggs sold in supermarkets is domestically produced.
In 2009-10, Australia exported $24.3 billion worth of food compared to food imports of $10.1 billion. A substantial proportion of these food imports comprised highly processed foods not produced in Australia, speciality branded spirits, seafood and processed fruit and vegetables.
A comprehensive analysis of the Australian food industry is provided in the department’s annual Australian Food Statistics series and in the recently released FOODMap 2011 publication.
What we do
The Department of Agriculture is responsibile for policy and programs that support a globally competitive and sustainable Australian food industry. Key areas of focus include the development of a national food plan, food value chain policy and food regulation reform.
The department is working with other Australian Government agencies such as the Department of Health and Ageing and Food Standards Australia New Zealand, as well as state and territory governments, to simplify and streamline food regulation and labelling. Together our aim is to ensure a more efficient and effective domestic food regulatory system that protects public health and safety while recognising the need for an internationally competitive food industry.
We work with the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, which has a focus on the food processing and manufacturing sectors.
We also work with industry to address potential gaps or vulnerabilities in the food chain safety and security system, and is committed to ensuring that Australian interests are considered in the development of international food standards.