Australia’s food industry comprises of a huge range of products. Even though it is chiefly arid, the country has a range of land types and different climates, including arid and semi arid climates, northern and tropical areas and coastal regions. This variety of land types and climates when combined with modern technology, facilitates production of a range of food products.
Aborigines have primarily been known as hunter-gatherers who had been changing their environment for improving access to food sources. For instance, they initiated “firestick farming” as fish traps for attracting grazing animals.
The pioneer food processing centres were farm houses and specialized industries for brewing, baking, milling, cheese making and salting. These were brought from Europe in 1788 with the first settlement. By 1790s, cheese, beer and butter had started being sold in small quantities in Parramatta and Sydney markets.
Food Production Today
Nowadays, food production is an essential component in the Australian economy since it accounts for approximately 46% of retailing turnover throughout Australia. According to the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, about 191400 people were employed in food and beverage production in the country in 2006 and 2007, which means that the food industry makes a huge contribution in the economy through business, employment and service opportunities.
Several new industries were founded in the 80s and 90s in order to make the most out of the emerging global market opportunities. Vegetables and fruit such as lychees, nashi pears, Asian vegetables, herbs and olives were started growing. Modern aquaculture activities were also established such as farming of southern Bluefin tune and Atlantic salmon.
Just recently, international and domestic markets have started acknowledging the food value of Australia’s native flora and fauna, for instance, crocodile and kangaroo are now widely accepted as meat products.
Australia is now recognised all over the world for producing premium quality food. Highest international standards of food safety and quality management are highly regarded. The two largest export items have been grains and meat since the past many years, with meat accounting for approximately 30% of value of exports in 2006 and 2007, while grains accounting for about 15%. In recent past, dairy products and wine have also started gaining popularity worldwide with dairy accounting for about 10% exports in 2006 and 2007, while wine accounting for about 13%.
Major markets for Australian exports are the United States and Japan. Indonesia, the Republic of Korea, United Kingdom, New Zealand, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia are among other export markets for Australian food products.