Friday, March 16, 2012

Food - Production, Processing and Purchasing - Who Wins?

Australia has been a significant producer of food - for itself, for export and for processing. Whether it be agriculture [ think wheat, sorghum, beef for example] or horticulture [ apples, stone fruits, oranges, mangoes, pineapples, bananas].

Supporting these endeavours have been scientists in agriculture /horticulture, food processing, crop handling and many other areas along with economists, specialised farm management experts, operating in both R and D and support roles such as plant pathologists, and entomologists.

But will the push by the two major food retailers curtail these endeavours in their escalating drive for profit at all costs? A push to use the cheapest food whether imported or processed, irrespective of real quality and with scant regard for local production.

A recent article [ link here ] with a cold hard look at supermarket practices by a respected economist seems to think that this might be the case.

It is sobering reading.

I am fed up with wondering if the panopoly of frozen food in the supermarket freezer is imported, often Chinese, or local? And more importantly whether for example it was grown using sewerage effluent or some other dodgy practice. You know that Australian [or New Zealand] produced food is safe and wholesome; yet the other stuff is at times dubious.

As an agricultural scientist I have seen and know that some overseas production methods are at best dubious, while some others are ok.

But it is the relentless pursuit of a dumbing down approach to our local food supplies that is a worry. Too many local producers are getting screwed by the supermarkets into prices that are uneconomic, often by a small margin. Where is the fairness and honesty?

We have relatively cheap food produced locally......lets support Australian produced food, and demand that the major supermarkets do too. It will not cost us very much, yet will make a difference to local Australian farmers. While they extol their Australian purchasing, there are many, many more non Australian food goods on their shelves - stuff we produce and process well - think of much of the canned fruit you see, jams, frozen vegetables. It is no longer Australian!

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