ONE in four Australian vegetable growers is facing financial ruin as they fight a losing battle against cheap processed imports, mounting labour costs and greater competition for our traditional export markets.
The importation of processed fruit and vegetables is now worth $1.5 billion a year, a rise of almost 60 per cent over seven years, a Sunday Age analysis of federal government data shows.
Imports are now so prevalent, and exports of processed fruit and vegetables under such threat, that a quarter of growers are going broke, according to the latest analysis by the industry body AusVeg.
In the past two years alone, the local food processing industry has shed 1127 jobs and closed five plants.
A Sunday Age investigation has revealed a fundamental shift in Australia's ability to process its own food, raising concerns about dependence on foreign supply chains and pressure on regional communities, as processors, many owned by multinational companies, move their operations offshore to use cheaper labour in low-cost factories.
Read more at Brisbanetimes.com.au