Australian food exports are increasing, but demand patterns alone will not ensure continual export growth and the integration of the Australian and Asian food markets to the future, argues this report.
Australian farmers and agribusinesses are highly reliant on export markets to sell their produce. 58 per cent of Australia’s total food production is sold to overseas consumers. Agricultural exports generate 70 per cent of the value for the sector. This reliance on exports requires continual production and value increases. Australia’s modest population and gradual consumption growth leads many Australian farmers to depend on new international markets to expand and maintain profitability.
Australia’s reputation as a producer of clean, green and safe food has created high global demand for Australian food products – particularly beef, wheat, canola, barley, sugar and dairy. Upholding and building this reputation is particularly relevant in breaching broader markets, where local food safety and quality concerns dominate consumer attitudes.
The government has a significant role to play in facilitating market access for Australian farmers overseas. Australian trade representatives are integral in reducing barriers and developing free trade policies with agricultural trading partners, to assist farmers in breaching developing markets.
Rapid productivity advancements to feed large markets are highly unlikely in the short to medium term due to water and input scarcity, climate variability and high rural debt. More than ever, funding in agricultural research and development is required to address productivity growth and support export targets.
- Australian Agriculture is highly dependent on food exports - 58 per cent of total food product is sold overseas, generating 70 per of the sector’s total value
- Merely meeting domestic demand is inadequate to support sustainable value growth within the competitive global food market; increasing farm export volume and value is essential for Australian farmers yet faces significant issues such as water and input scarcity, climate variability and high debt.
- National agricultural export strategies can benefit diverse interests within the sector. These include reviving the national food brand initiative and providing support to exporters through: trade negotiations; regulatory integration with key trading partners; and bolstering supply chain transparency.
- Such export-focused initiatives can help improve profitability in the sector. This not only helps farmers compete with international competitors, but also ensures an affordable, local food supply to support domestic food security.