1:40pm – Maximising Sustainable Profits Per Hectare

Nick Ritar

Much of the land in our region is underutilised. Nick will outline a way to maximise our regional retained earnings from agriculture. The overall potential is eye-watering – thousands of jobs and a significant increase in regional GDP.

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The Benefits of Local Produce in Australia

With a global network of food and drink producers now established the origin and quality of produce is often difficult to ascertain. Produce can originate from many world regions and via long distance supply chains land on Australian plates without reliable identification.  Making a switch to locally grown food can have a wide range of benefits to both your own health and the financial health of your local region. Australia benefits from a very diverse range of climates, this allows a wide range of crops and livestock to be produced, very few foodstuffs need to be imported, but support for local producers is not always as strong as it should be. By shopping for local produce you are directly benefitting your local farmers and producers, strengthening the local community and making sure that the majority of your food expenditure goes to the producer, not lost in the supply chain or supermarket mark-ups.

The other great benefit of shopping locally is that because of the shortened supply chain the food should be in the best condition for consumption. Imported produce will likely have been frozen or shipped for days in varying conditions causing a reduction in quality, flavour and retention of nutritional vitamins, making local produce healthier. This is especially important for local restaurants who want to have the finest and best tasting ingredients to cook in their kitchens. Another important aspect of buying local is the connection to the local seasons it demands. By purchasing produce in season it will be more flavoursome and abundant, therefore making it more affordable.

The global supply chain has greatly helped provide food security to areas in need, but it has led to a level of anonymity about where food originates as it arrives at your local supermarket. This has been exasperated by demand for produce being all year round when local production is only seasonal; sourcing all year round produce means longer supply chains and often a reduction in quality. When buying local this problem is removed with a clearly stated provenance and traceable origin often with the producers name explicitly labelled on the point of sale at the grocery store. If you have any doubts about the origin you only have to travel a short distance to see where the produce comes from, no need for labels.

Arguably the most important benefit of reducing supply chains for food and drink is the reduction to the global emissions these supply chains cause. It seems ridiculous that in a country like Australia where produce is abundant so much of our food is sourced overseas and shipped or transported by road to end up on supermarket shelves. It is clear from research on food security that shorter supply chains are always beneficial where possible. Short supply chains provide stability from outside factors that could threaten security like droughts, disease and even war. It is inevitable that with rising oil costs sourcing produce from far away countries is not sustainable, better to prepare now than wait for food markets to contract. The prices you pay for your supermarket shop may be less but the long term damage to the environment may not be such a saving after all.