Craig Lundy, assistant minister for Industry, Innovation and Science said food firms should strive to better harness the contacts of Australian’s migrant community to boost exports and jobs.
Speaking at the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology (AIFST) convention in Sydney, he said: “There is a lot of commentary in our national politics about the value of immigration and sadly a lot of it comes from background of ignorance.
“There are many benefits in the migrant community which we are yet to tap into. As an industry I challenge you to work with those communities to increase exports and Australian jobs.”
He cited one of his constituents, a Chinese born Australian, who was working with a local butcher to export to Australian beef to China.
The butcher has gone from employing five to 30 people and is about to move to bigger premises.
Laundy said trade agreements with a number of Asian countries would also help increase exports.
“Free trade agree with China, Japan and South Korea mean food producers are on cusp of exciting times,” he added.
“Let me give you one example; Crazy Dragon dumplings uses fresh and clean Australian produce to make traditional Chinese products. They have enjoyed 100% growth in their first three years and are now looking at selling Australian-made dumplings to China. Talk about exporting ice to the Eskimos.”
Lundy also urged Australian food manufacturers to benefit from the advice available from organisations such as FIAL, which recently launched its Food and Agriculture Competitive Plan and CSIRO, which has produced a number of industry roadmaas.
“We will face Intense global competition, with Asia is gaining market share,” said Lundy.
“We need to strength our position at exporter of sustainable, healthy and high-quality products, underpinned by innovation, skills, collaboration, food safety and traceability.
“There are great opportunities for food and beverage sector but businesses will have to take calculated risks and use Australian ingenuity,” he added.
He said the government would continue to invest in its entrepreneurs programme, which helps to commercialise ideas and research, and provide tailored support to SMEs
“I see a future when our food and agri is world leader in innovation, productivity and innovation. I see no reason why we can’t be as innovative as Silicon Valley,” he told delegates at the convention, which is being held alongside the FoodPro exhibition.