Government support vital

09/07/2008 - 22:00

Bookmark

Save articles for future reference.

The food-manufacturing sector requires urgent action from government if it is to remain viable in the future, according to industry representatives at the WA Business News forum.

Government support vital

The food-manufacturing sector requires urgent action from government if it is to remain viable in the future, according to industry representatives at the WA Business News forum.

With the state government currently considering a food strategy, the Food Industry Association has proposed a number of initiatives it says will help the industry remain competitive, including more funding and incentives for businesses, and assistance to tackle the labour shortage.

It has also called for the development of food manufacturing precincts to give businesses access to suitably zoned land without the pressure of residential encroachment.

Financial assistance for the industry could involve incentives to make capital investments, such as interest-free loans, according to FIA chief executive Andrea Berteit.

"The incentives for food and beverage businesses are missing, and vision for the future 20 to 50 years out is missing," Ms Berteit said.

But she is unsure whether the government will take any of the indu-stry's recommendations on board.

"We have to do the best job we can to fight for it. I can't make any predictions on whether we have a chance to achieve something substantial or not," Ms Berteit said.

"We hope government listens to what industry is asking for, including financial incentives, for businesses to establish and grow here."

Canon Foods managing director Richard Pace said his business was competing with businesses in other states that received greater government support.

"There are many companies around Australia competing with us that get huge government support to put in their infrastructure, to put their facilities in place, and basically they use that lack of capital investment at that level to come in and compete with us over here," he said.

Acting director of food industry development at the Department of Agriculture and Food WA, Stuart Clarke, said the strategy was now entirely in the hands of Agriculture Minister Kim Chance.

The process for the development of a WA food strategy began almost eight years ago, with the inclusion of food in the department's name in 2006 to bring specific focus to the industry.

The strategy is expected to address issues and impediments to growth throughout the supply chain, from agricultural production and first-stage packing through to processed product for retail, hospitality and export markets.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

Subscription Options