Australian manufacturing is key to the success of our food industry. Australia’s food supply chain took a significant hit as a result of the pandemic. Border closures meant imports and exports came to a sudden halt, resulting in food supply shortages. While these were major issues, manufacturing in Australia limits the troubles many businesses faced.
Products made on Australian soil are more accessible, therefore minimising the risk of restricted products and food choices. However, I know consumers believe Australian-made products are more expensive, and in some cases maybe, but there are many factors contributing to this.
The governance around food quality in Australia is very high and expensive. However, the rigorous quality control process ensures confidence in Australian-made products among consumers. Another factor is employee wages. Australia’s minimum wage is higher than most countries and in food manufacturing, this certainly increases costs. However, job creation positively impacts the economy. I currently employ 53 people at both Food for Health and Grain & Bake combined. We also have significant growth plans over the next 18 months which will generate more than 30 jobs. This is something I am very proud of and hope to continually contribute to.
Key stakeholders to my business like packaging and raw material suppliers are all based in Australia, so indirectly there is further job creation and opportunity. However, if Australian citizens don’t support Australian owned and made, there is a domino effect – the manufacturing industry, its suppliers and, therefore, the economy is at risk.
What does success in Australia’s food industry look like?
I’d love to see Australia’s food industry grow in many ways. I look forward to innovation through new product development and technology that can compete with key players in the food game. For example, most of our key equipment comes from Europe, who are always a step ahead in innovative manufacturing technology.
I also think major supermarket chains like Coles and Woolworths should implement strategies to ensure Australian owned and made products are prioritised over imported. This might mean rejecting big marketing spend from international vendors, but it’ll be worth it in the long run.
At Food for Health and Grain & Bake, I’m always thinking of strategies to contribute to the success of Australia’s food industry. We work really closely with our clients on their new product development and innovation plans. For example, we have a huge project launching mid-year with a key brand and we had to invest in a specific piece of equipment to bring the product to life.
Our vision at Grain & Bake is to offer many solutions for the muesli and snacking space. For a three-year-old business, we have already launched over 60 new innovative products to the market – and plan to increase this number in the years to come.
Ultimately, it’s up to consumers to support Australian brands, not just in the food industry but in all industries. This in turn, will support the long-term success of our nation.
Narelle Plapp, Founder, Food for Health and Grain & Bake