Grocery industry concerned that food price impact is overlooked in proposed ETS

Posted by James Ferre on 11th March 2009

The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC), the nation’s peak body representing food and grocery manufacturers, has urged the government to make sure they understand the real impact that an emissions trading scheme will have on consumers.

AFGC Chief Executive Kate Carnell claimed the government continued to overlook the issue of how the proposed emissions trading scheme will impact on the consumers.

“The government has been saying all along that costs will be passed through the supply chain, but except for heating and cooling costs we still have no evidence of what this will mean to everyday consumer purchases like bread and milk,” she said.

Ms Carnell welcomed the Senate Select Committee on Climate Policy inquiry into the choice of an ETS as the central policy to reduce carbon emissions. However, she expressed dismay at the fact that this important issue was left to a last minute Senate Committee, which will still not investigate the real impact on everyday Australians.

“The AFGC’s position is that given the nature and the size of legislative changes, it’s critical that we get the policy right especially at a time when business and the community are already facing significant challenges from the financial downturn,” she explained. “Obligations imposed up and downstream of the farm gate mean that carbon costs will be passed right through the food supply chain to consumers. This will undoubtedly result in significantly higher food, beverage and grocery prices for Australian produced products.”

“In addition to everyday household price increases, this policy will compromise the domestic and international competitiveness of Australia’s largest manufacturing industry,” Ms Carnell added. “We look forward to the Senate Inquiry’s findings on how an Australian system would operate in the absence of a global agreement. The last thing we want is for jobs and emissions to be exported off shore.”

Ms Carnell said that food and grocery manufacturing was critical to the Australian way of life.

“Our industry wants to be able to continue to supply safe, fresh and high quality food and grocery products to consumers,” she concluded.