Australian government report highlights Australian capabilities in global food crisis

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 19th July 2012

The National Food Plan green paper released by Australian agriculture minister Senator Joe Ludwig earlier this week foreshadows a major role for Australia in meeting global food shortfalls.

Australia’s production of total agricultural and fisheries and food products in 2010–11 was valued at AU$40.7 billion, of which AU$27.1 billion was exported. Australia ranked 16th biggest world food exporter, but this value is understated because the bulk of Australian food exports is currently in commodity form.

Australia’s proposed new National Food Plan recognises a shift in Australia’s major food-buying customers towards Asia where food demand is expected to double over the next 40 years with the predominance of China as the major importer.

Australian Government research bureau ABARES projects that world food demand will be 77% higher in 2050 than in 2007.

World food prices in the last decade have tripled according to statistics released by the United Nations.

National Food Plan mentions that while Australia has a self-sufficient food supply, approximately one billion people are undernourished globally. “Measures to improve global food security contribute to social and political stability, and facilitate global economic growth. It is therefore in Australia’s national interest to help improve global food security,” the Plan notes.

However, notwithstanding the predictions and capabilities of Australia to meet much of the world’s food deficiency, suppliers will generally only sell to those who offer the best prices, such as China and the Gulf States.

The plan acknowledged that Australia’s efforts to aid global food security are best deployed in ongoing initiatives to enhance agricultural productivity and food production capacity in developing countries.