The AFGC: No longer just for the big names

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

SMEs now supported under dedicated AFGC forum
SMEs now supported under dedicated AFGC forum

Related tags Sri lanka Australia

The Australian Food and Grocery Council has expanded its services to cater for small-to-medium (SME) enterprises in the country’s A$108 billion food and grocery manufacturing sector.

An SME forum has been established to explore issues impacting these enterprises and cater to their needs, broadening the reach of the Australian association.

“Expanding SME membership has allowed AFGC to improve its capacity to provide a strong, united voice and specialist services for the entire food and grocery industry,”​ Kate Carnell, CEO of AFGC said.

The industry organisation has been “strongly and effectively advocating on behalf of food and grocery manufacturers since 1995,”​ Carnell said, and this new forum will widen this.

Small but mighty business group

SMEs represent 54% of the AFGC’s current membership and so the forum will develop a range of services that reflects the differing needs of this majority business group.

The AFGC said it would ensure these companies have resources to keep up to speed with industry developments including regulatory and technical compliance issues.

Carnell said that the services the AFGC can provide to food and grocery manufacturers are invaluable amid such unprecedented pressures from a challenging supply chain throughout Australia.

“Industry is currently weathering a ‘perfect storm’ from an extraordinary number of pressures including rising costs of wages, water and energy, a carbon tax, global commodity prices such as sugar, dairy, cocoa, oilseeds and wheat and the near record Australian dollar, making imported products significantly cheaper,”​ she said.

Dr Caroline Hong, CEO of SME Association of Australia, agreed that, “given the current and further predicted downturn in the global economy, 2012 will be a tough year for SMEs in Australia.”

The first SME forum will be held on March 15 in Sydney and will feature George Dymond, general manager, supply chain Coles Group, as its guest speaker.

SMEs valuable to industry

The value of supporting SMEs has not gone unrecognised elsewhere in Asia Pacific.

Sri Lanka has recognised the importance of SMEs within its food and beverage industry and there is a programme in place to support and underpin this group.

A Switch-Asia Programme, a project run by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, is focused on supporting Sri Lankan SME food and beverage companies as it has been recognised that these companies are becoming less competitive.

The project aims to assist smaller businesses comply with international food safety regulations as well as work efficiently and sustainably.

Related topics Business Oceania Industry growth

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