The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed the world as we know it, but one thing remains certain, Australian’s don’t need to worry about running out of food.
While consumers may have doubted Australia’s food security as they faced bare supermarket shelves over the past month, the latest Insights report by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) found that Australian farmers produce substantially more food than Australian’s consume, even during drought years.
According to the report, there are several factors that contribute to Australia’s status as one of the most food secure countries in the world with the report highlighting the fact that almost 89% of the food Australians consume is grown in Australia.
Only 11% of food is imported, 1.6% of which is fresh produce and the remainder is non-perishable goods such as processed food and beverages.
The report confirmed that empty supermarket shelves are a reflection of an unexpected surge in demand as more consumers stockpile food, taking supply chains by surprise and forcing logistics to adapt to the unexpected demand.
National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) President Fiona Simson said that during uncertain times, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, it was important to reassure Australian’s that farmers are still on the job.
“Right now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Australians are understandably focussed on keeping themselves and their families well and key to that is a plentiful, nutritious diet,” Ms Simson said.
“In these uncertain times, we want to all Australians to know that farmers are on the job.
“Working from home, as they always do, continuing to produce, in high volumes, the milk, eggs, red meat, poultry, pork, grains, fruit, vegetables and other staples Australians depend on.”
The NFF recently launched a nation-wide campaign recognising the important role farmers play in Australian society, urging consumers to avoid panic buying as there was plenty of food to go around.
The #gotyourback campaign was launched across newspapers throughout Australia and has now reached over a million people on social media with billboards across Melbourne and shopping centres in Sydney proudly showing their support for Aussie farmers.
“Farmers have felt the support of Australians during recent tough times including drought and bushfire,” Ms Simson said.
“Right now, we want to reassure the community, that farmers have got your back, by continuing to grow the produce you need to keep yourself and your family healthy.”
Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud also welcomed the report and said the Government was committed to working with the agricultural sector to continue the job of feeding Australia.
“I’m glad to see the disruption is abating and ABARES report leaves no room for alarm.
“Ensuring Australia’s food security is one of the government’s top priorities. It’s a key part of $320 billion of measures to deal with the impacts of COVID-19.
“Amid crucial measures to curb the spread of this virus, we’ve made sure getting food on the table remains an essential service.”