$6.4 million directed toward food innovation

Posted by Isobel Drake on 18th August 2009

The Federal Government has announced funding of $6.4 million to help 15 regional businesses boost innovation in Australia’s food industry, for both domestic and export markets.Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Tony Burke said the funding was under the first round of the Regional Food Producers Innovation and Productivity Program.

The Government suggests the program will help support regional jobs and regional economies through new technology and productivity improvements.

The 15 businesses cover a range of food industries, including seafood, nuts, dairy, vegetables and meat, within a number of regional economies in Tasmania, South Australia, Victoria, NSW, Queensland and Western Australia.

Projects include installing laser-guided cutting ‘robots’ to maximise yield and efficiency in a slaughter room and adopting innovative chestnut-peeling equipment, to bring offshore processing back to Australia.

Mr Burke noted that the food and beverage industry supported more than 200,000 jobs across Australia and global competitiveness was the key to ensure the industry continues to grow.

“People in our food industries work hard to establish a competitive edge and the Government wants to encourage their efforts,” Mr Burke claimed. “Food production is a critical industry, not only for regional jobs, but also because Australia will have a role in helping to address the world food shortage.”

“This funding will underpin productivity growth right along the food production chain and value-adding to Australian produce.”

Around two-thirds of Australia’s food commodities are exported, worth more than $23 billion annually.