An industry report has found that Australian food and beverage manufacturing largely stabilised last year, after a period of decline.
Overall industry turnover remained steady at about $111.2 billion, companies ploughed $31 billion into capital investment, and exports increased while the number of imports declined.
However, the sector shed 1,071 jobs last year, or 0.4 per cent of its almost 300,000-strong workforce, and 170 businesses closed their doors.
About half the national food, beverage and grocery workforce are based in rural and regional areas.
The Australian Food and Grocery Council’s chief executive Gary Dawson says he’s not willing to say the decline has bottomed out just yet.
“It would be nice to be able to declare that,” he said.
“When you juxtapose that with stories about factory closures continuing, about rationalisation in the industry, then I’m still a little cautious on that front.
“It is a picture where, on the one hand, you’ve certainly got rationalisation happening, smaller factories closing, companies consolidating and automating to improve their competitiveness.
“On the other hand, you’ve got the example of Warrnambool Cheese and Butter, which is the subject of a huge bidding war.
“That suggests that this is not a dying industry. This is an industry with great prospects for the future, because people are willing to put big money on the table to try and capture that asset.”