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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Fresh food industry 'strong', report finds. 02/03/2006. ABC News Online

Fresh food industry 'strong', report finds. 02/03/2006. ABC News Online

Despite grower claims, a new report shows the vegetable industry is performing well and cheap imports are little threat.

There has been a grower-led campaign against imports, but research by the Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics says fresh food producers face little competition.

While suppliers of processed and packaged food have a tougher market, Karen Schneider from ABARE says in general, growers are dealing well with competition.

"The range of returns that vegetable growers are making is very similar to other parts of agriculture," she said.

"It is a strong industry now, there are areas of pressure, but overall it is a strong industry.

"There's always ongoing adjustment within agricultural industries and in other industries, so yes that will serve to strengthen the performance of the industry overall."

But there is concern that growers who supply food processors could try to sell their produce to the fresh vegetable market instead, and put their colleagues under pressure.

Mike Badcock from Ausveg says while some growers are doing well, many are just surviving.

"We've been hearing this for a long time, it is happening to a certain degree, there will be massive problems developing," he said.

"People are surviving, but they're not surviving, they're not having enough money in there to progress. Nothing stays the same, so we've got to look to the future and to our new opportunities."

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