Peter Kelly, the managing director of SPC Ardmona, has said that the federal and Victorian governments should be supporting local food processors and farmers by encouraging public institutions to source locally-made food.
Kelly, who spoke to The Australian ahead of a meeting with federal industry minister Ian Macfarlane, said that institutions such as gaols, hospitals and army barracks should be buying locally-made and grown food.
“The biggest win for us would be to get Australian health departments – they run the hospitals and care centres – to buy Australian fruit, not imported cans; yet our market share, and that of all Australian products, in those institutions is very small,” he said.
“Our own government is not buying our products, and this makes me very angry… The Australian government should be supporting Australian farmers and businesses; how can we ever become a fresh and processed food bowl for Asia otherwise?”
SPC Ardmona, owned by Coca-Cola Amatil, has suffered under the strong Australian dollar increasing competition from cheap imports. The Productivity Commission recently declined to recommend a temporary tariff to help overcome this.
Kelly and Macfarlane are to discuss a federal assistance package worth $25 million – announced by the former Labor government in September (and conditional on a dollar-for-dollar matching commitment from the Victorian government) – today.