Aussie Food

Reporter: Rodney Lohse

Welcome to Supermarket Sweepstakes, the gameshow where you get a prize if you manage to get something in your trolley that's made here, with Australian ingredients, by an Aussie owned company.

And believe me it's not easy. Now for our next game, country of origin trivia.

Who needs to fly round the world for exotic dining fare, a 45 minute whip round the grocery store and we've picked up products from no less than 26 countries, some of them staples you'd find in every Australian home.

And it's not high end items, take generic brand jam from Denmark, tomatoes and pasta sauce from italy, asparagus and passionfruit from Peru, Sardines from Scotland, German coffee and even Uncle Toby's has been on holiday in Canada. And then there's this obscure group made in Australia from local and imported produce, with absolutely no indication of how much is imported or from where.

"We've seen a massive globalisation of food processors merging and taking over each other and really has become a global industry."

Ian McGowan of research group IBIS World says this year Australia will import 5.5 Billion dollars worth of seafood, fruit and vegetables, dairy, meat, wine and other food within 5 years that will grow to almost 6.5 billion dollars. And despite living on an island our number one food import is seafood.

"We have seen in the last five years that it has increased quite significantly and part of the reason is the development of aquaculture industries in south east Asia and we've had the Thai government, Vietnam and China all investing very heavily in the aquaculture industry and that has really boosted their production level."

And it's cheap, that's the reason most of our processed foods come from overseas. Cheaper labour and subsidies mean they can get produce in a tin or packet for less.

"The trend is disturbing, the exports have sat at around $250 million a year for the last 5 years. The imports have moved from about $75 million to about $550 million over that same five year period"

Growcom's Alex Livingstone represents fruit and vegetable growers says with imports are flooding in Australian consumers need help.

"So we believe and research indicates that a lot of consumers want to buy fresh Australian produce and they want to support the local industry but at times the labeling isn't clear enough to give them that assurity"

And it is confusing all products have an Australian address which is the head office of the importer, then you have to search high and low for the country of origin. Even then made in Australia can still mean made from imported products.

"They have to say where a product is from, but they can still bundle product together and say that this is a mix of local and imported product, so we'd like to see that tidied up."

Alex says it's an issue not just of supporting Australian farmers but also food safety.

" We are very very sceptical to anything that comes in from overseas to any pests and diseases so biosecurity is absolutely essential."

There really is only one way to guarantee what you're eating comes from here. Fiona Lippy has an army of followers, all driven by an obsession with saving that has seen them turn their backs on processed food.

"The cheapest food is often the healthiest food, it's the food you've grown yourself, it's the food you've sourced locally"

Fiona calls it a food revolution and she's driving it through her website www.simplesavings.com.au, a movement that's shying away from the cans the frozen and the supermarkets in general.

"The good thing about local produce is you know where it's come from, it hasn't been interfered with and it's the best for your health."

It's one of the reason's Farmers Direct has seen exponential growth in a Australia. It supplies direct from producers to customers.

CEO Brayden Lord says "We are supporting Aussie farmers, we're keeping the profits in Australia, we're keeping jobs in Australia"

Many farmers are cutting straight to the chase and supplying direct using the web to reach out, like grazier like Robbie Shaw.

"My beef is raised bred in the country goes through my little accredited feed lot, it goes through a local abattoir and butcher shop. It's all cut the way you want it. It's all delivered to you."

But if you are going to start checking labels just be prepared once you know where it's from you might not want it any more.

www.aussiefarmers.com.au

www.boutiquemeats.com.au