Climate innovation program now open to food sector

Posted by Isobel Drake on 2nd December 2009

A decision by the Federal Government to allow Australia’s food manufacturing sector to access the Climate Change Research Program has been welcomed by the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) today.

Agriculture Minister Tony Burke has announced that, for the first time, the food processing industry would be eligible to access the research program, designed to support scientific projects to prepare Australia’s primary industries for climate change and build the resilience of the agricultural sector.

Originally focused on reducing greenhouse emissions, better soil management and climate change adaptation, the program – which has been running since 2008 – will now involve projects for value-adding industries such as Australia’s food and grocery sector.

AFGC Chief Executive Kate Carnell applauded the Government’s move to allow food processors to access the innovative research program.

“Having a sustainable food and grocery sector is vital for the future of Australia’s food supply and the industry welcomes the opportunity to access research funding to safeguard the nation’s food security,” Ms Carnell said. “Food and grocery is Australia’s largest manufacturing sector, employing 315,000 Australians and is vital to growing Australia’s economy into the future.”

With predictions that the world’s population will reach 9 billion by 2050, experts predict that the world may need to double its current food production to meet these challenges in a carbon and water constrained environment.

“There are also some real challenges facing Australia’s food and grocery industry including the increasing cost of energy and availability of water,” Ms Carnell said.

“Therefore, having new research and development funds available to ensure the food processing industry can better adapt to climate change and will continue to provide jobs and economic growth, particularly in rural and regional Australia.”