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SPC Ardmona and the cheap Chinese food challenge

The political lobbying accompanying the government decision to withhold financial support from SPC Ardmona has overshadowed the big structural issues facing Australia’s preserved food industry. The two…

A shift towards fresh food and improved consumer protections in China provides opportunities and threats for Australian food producers. dcmaster/Flickr

The political lobbying accompanying the government decision to withhold financial support from SPC Ardmona has overshadowed the big structural issues facing Australia’s preserved food industry.

The two major issues are the shift of market demand towards fresh food and the role of Chinese imports.

The decline of SPC Ardmona’s cannery business is not an isolated event. Heinz closed its cannery business in Goulburn Valley in 2012, Windsor Farm closed in Cowra, and only a few small players remain, mainly in NSW and WA.

Imports, mainly from China, have been singled out and demonised as “cheap, dumped and frequently contaminated”. This is a short-sighted perspective.

China is a big global player in international agribusiness. Chinese importing of fresh food provides opportunities for Australian exporters, but at the same time Chinese exports of canned food compete with Australian products in the local domestic market and in traditional export markets.

The “cheap, dumped and frequently contaminated” label will not stick for long.

China is stepping up consumer protection

While China’s canned food will remain cheap because of economies of scale and because canning technology is not much different in Australia and China, contamination is being addressed more seriously in China with new laws and regulations expected. The flow-on effect will mitigate Chinese consumer dissatisfaction with local food standards, but also improve the quality and safety of Chinese export products.

In January, China’s Supreme People’s Court announced an 18-clause guideline on how to handle civil disputes regarding food, drugs, cosmetics and dietary supplements.

The new guideline, together with an updated version of the consumer protection law, will come into effect on March 15, World Consumer Rights Day, and signal a new wave of regulatory action from the government to tackle China’s food safety problems. It gives consumers backing from the courts to sue manufacturers and retailers of unsafe food. Advertisers and publishers can be sued even before any actual harm is inflicted. Celebrities who endorse substandard products can also be sued if consumers feel they have been misled.

Since the milk powder scandal of 2008, much as been done to alleviate public anxiety and improve practices in the food industry. The Food Safety Law, replacing the outdated Food Hygiene Act, came into effect in 2009 and includes provisions on risk assessment methods, unification of food safety standards, improving supervision, and imposing tougher penalties on violators.

In March 2013, China’s State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) was renamed to China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) and elevated to a ministerial-level agency directly under the State Council, in an attempt to consolidate power and streamline regulation of food and drug safety.

The new guidelines change the balance of power between consumers and producers and rely less on local government enforcement. One challenge facing China in food safety regulation is that law enforcement and implementation at the local level do not match the original intent of the law and central policies. With clearer procedures on how to protect their rights, consumers are given more say on food safety. This will increase food producers’ opportunity cost as consumers are now more willing and able to participate in the monitoring process.

Previously, producers and manufacturers had an incentive to sacrifice quality in order to maximise profits, because the chance of being caught and penalised was low. But consumers and social media now play a much more active role in monitoring food safety and have successfully put pressure on the government to enforce food safety standards

Australia has a head start

While enforcement will work for the corporatised food export sector, China’s highly fragmented food industry will continue to face problems because of the scale of monitoring required. Almost 80% of the half a million food companies in China are classified as “cottage industry” with ten or less employees.

Like in Australia, there are social reasons to keep small producers afloat. Along this complex supply chain there is a need to balance the interests of producers, markets and consumers. China’s first policy document of 2014, the No.1 Central Document, underscored the importance of rural reform and the development of modern agriculture.

For Australian agribusiness, this entails opportunities and challenges. Chinese producers will for the foreseeable future not be able to satisfy the demand of urban middle class consumers for top quality food. Australia, in competition with New Zealand, has a head start in this market with an enviable and hard to replicate reputation for clean and fresh food.

On the other hand, Chinese exports will become more competitive in the preserved food market, in particular in such traditional segments as canned food, putting more pressure on Australian producers in those market segments. For SPC Ardmona and its supply chain, the farming communities in the Goulburn Valley, this will require a radical rethink of traditional products and a switch to new product lines.

Join the conversation

70 Comments sorted by

  1. Mike Stasse

    Retired Energy Consultant

    The “cheap, dumped and frequently contaminated” label will not stick for long.

    Don't bet on it....... I wouldn't touch the stuff with a 40 foot barge pole. Grow your own...

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    1. Craig Read

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      You can't bet on being able to tell the difference between Chinese and Australian goods. Importers are continually lobbying to have less information shown on labels.

      Growing your own food might be viable if you're retired or in a single income household. But a lot of couples who commute 2+ hours per day and have kids to look after simply don't have the time (even if they do have the room).

      In regards to quality: people used to say the same about Japanese cars, but now Germans are the only ones who out-do them on quality. The Koreans are catching up to the Japanese, and the Chinese won't be far behind them.

      With their low wages and economies of scale, it wouldn't be that hard for China to sell us better quality produce for less than our own growers can grow it.

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    2. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Craig Read

      Might actually be a healthy alternative for kids....instead of stuck in front of a computer, get them out in the garden (or a row of pots).

      Productive on many levels.

      And funny the skewed logic of this modern age, that in trying to forge a "better" life for families, it is often the reverse.

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    3. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Craig Read

      If you are "commuting 2+ hours per day", sorry, but your whole life is badly designed....... and it's time you did what we did, sell everything and 'downsize' to a lifestyle that allows you to not work! Or at least work far less than you might think is necessary right now.... It can be done, you would be amazed how many people I know have done this.......

      Furthermore........ cars are a very bad analogy, because hardly anyone will be driving anything in about 10 or so years, another good reason to get out of the rat race....

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    4. Craig Read

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      Mike, I'd love to live closer to work or retire. Even if I sold everything I had, I wouldn't have the money to do either.

      Whether cars are going to be driven in a decade (or more) is irrelevant to the analogy. The point I was making is that Japanese goods used to be held in similar regard to how many of us regard Chinese goods now. But Japan now makes some of the highest quality goods on the planet. Not just cars, but also electronics.

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    5. Bart Brighenti

      Farmer

      In reply to Craig Read

      It will be hard to grow better quality when they are running out of land, and the land they have is contaminated with heavy metals.

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    6. Robert Tony Brklje
      Robert Tony Brklje is a Friend of The Conversation.

      retired

      In reply to Craig Read

      You can not grown clean in a polluted environment. China recently closed 8 million acres of farmland http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/12/30/3108211/china-polluted-farmland-food/ as being too polluted to grow on. They use raw garbage as fertilizers on farms and feed fish human sewerage.
      You buy food exported from China and you are simply experimenting with your families future health, Chinese living in China who can afford it, buy Australian and do not touch food produced in China.
      Apparently…

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  2. Trevor Kerr

    ISTP

    Citizens of both countries could be more sceptical about their governments "imposing tougher penalties on violators." If either nation was serious about convincing consumers, wouldn't there be actual evidence of more inspections, more tests, more public access to results, more convictions and more penalties?
    There's a pretty good argument, then, for Australian food producers to show consumers how to find that data - if it exists. For example, where are the figures that compare heavy metal content of food grown in Australia and overseas? Is Sharman Stone prepared to be the advocate for safety & quality of edible products on the shelves of Australian supermarkets?

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  3. Stephen Ralph

    carer

    So do we just lay down and accept that Australian produce is in it's death knell?

    I don't care if Chinese food is a paragon of excellence - that's not the point.

    We NEED a viable Australian produce industry. We should have one.
    I can't believe the short-sightedness of a) politicians or b) Australians consumers and c} supermarkets who would rather blithely ignore the possible perils of letting our food industry rot and die.

    It seems as if we are destined to become a land of welfare desperates because if hundreds of thousands of jobs go year in year out, it will make a mockery of the current governments attempt to overhaul welfare.

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    1. Craig Read

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      That's the whole problem with globalisation. When companies can send all the jobs to cheaper markets, they have to. Otherwise they won't compete, as their competitors will send the jobs to cheaper markets.

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    2. Darren G

      logged in via email @yahoo.com

      In reply to Craig Read

      I wouldn't see that as a problem of globalisation. Id see that as a challenge and opportunity of globalism. "Cheaper" means more efficient utilisation of resources and a more egalitarian spread around the world. The reason Australia is doing it tough on some of these fronts right now is because our whole society is set up to be the opposite of cheap - we simply cannot achieve economies of scale with the number of people we have in this country spread across a country the size of Australia.

      That…

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    3. Bart Brighenti

      Farmer

      In reply to Darren G

      Sorry darren but efficient doesnt = cheap, Australian Farmers are some of the most efficient in the world, I double the yield of the Average brazillian farmer, they have to spray insecticide every 2 weeks for greening disease we dont have but still concentrate is sold here cheaper then we can grow them even after all the energy used to boil it off to form concentrate then freeze it and ship it here, simply because they have cheap labour (the industry in brazil was fined 227 million for labour abuse and outsourcing) at the expense of the people, they have cheap land by clearing the amazon and use chemicals banned from here

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    4. Darren G

      logged in via email @yahoo.com

      In reply to Bart Brighenti

      From an economic point of view, Bart, efficiency is measured by cheapness. The fact that others can sell their goods cheaper than you simply means that their inputs are more efficient.

      The point to that is there is a limit to efficiency - reached when you reach acceptable practices and living standards. A point which we agree on and which I think I alluded to in my original comment. I think that means we have an interest in making acceptable practices and living standards universal (which is a very good reason why we should support such standards here - we cannot preach what we don't practice).

      the point still remains that - subject to acceptable practices and living standards - efficiency is measured by cheapness.

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  4. Sean Rothsey

    logged in via Facebook

    Those of us in China recognise that outbound China FDI is about Food Safety more than it is about Food Security or Food Sovereignty - which are domestic issues.

    State Owned Enterprises and their corporate offshoots will invest outside of their core industries but there is a barrier to invest none the less where off take is disadvantaged where some of the finished product is exported back to China and is subject to a trade barrier because no Free Trade Agreement exists between China and Australia…

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  5. R. Ambrose Raven

    none

    Essentially the standard free-market nonsense, greatly improved by useful detail. Globalised (especially unregulated) trade is not “fair”, to the extent it may actually occur devaluation will not reliably bring back any industry, and without an active industry policy (especially regarding finance), none of these nice things will happen to us! Abbott the Hun’s policy is for industry destruction, to convert Australia into a sweatshop, the wealth of which can then be plundered more completely by the…

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  6. Comment removed by moderator.

  7. Peter Innes
    Peter Innes is a Friend of The Conversation.

    ag science research

    It seems to me we are killing our local food industries so we can engage in the foolishness of shipping food halfway across the globe for our local consumption, why? probably so we can sell more coal!

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  8. Geoffrey Sherrington

    Surveyor

    Might have missed it, but I've not seen any analysis about why Chinese fruit can sell here more cheaply than local fruit.
    Informed ideas, anyone?

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    1. Clifford Heath

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Geoffrey Sherrington

      At least part of the reason our local growers are dying and unable to compete against the foreign "free trade" product is the regulatory standards they have to comply with. There are over 200 separate tests and standards that apply to local product, whereas the imported equivalent must only pass about 80 of those. Level playing field, anyone?

      I'm not the expert, but I got these numbers from the co-owner of one of Australia's two largest seedlings suppliers, who supply market gardeners around the country.

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    2. Bart Brighenti

      Farmer

      In reply to Geoffrey Sherrington

      why they are able to produce cheaper, as aussie farmers can produce just as cheap if not cheaper if you want us to.
      Wages- give us true free trade where we can import workers at free will and pay the equivalent rates to competitors, dont forget even USA pay $7/hr, also same conditions, a few die or go blind .. same same we accept it now from other countries,
      regulations--Let us pump water with no restrictions, clear trees, use all sorts of chemicals that are normally banned here and…

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    1. Jeff Payne

      PhD in Political Science and Masters in Public Policy

      In reply to MADGE Australia Inc

      I really am very supportive of farmers and their needs. I agree with you Madge that we do need to an 'agricultural sector' to produce quality food so that we all lead 'good' lives. The problem is that many farmers have been active participants in destroying the working conditions of people living in the cities. They vote for a compliant National Party and refuse to stand up when car manufacturing etc., is destroyed. You can't support the active destruction of the manufacturing sector and then ask for everything to be different it is affecting me now. Why won't farmers support a social democratic agenda which would benefit everyone (except for the rich)? This coalition might give new meaning to there being a red/green ticket.

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    2. Bart Brighenti

      Farmer

      In reply to Jeff Payne

      I dont know Who you are talking about not supporting manufacturing and I think the destruction of working conditions is the other way round. Just look at farm debt , farmers have been subsidising the city with cheap food by borrowing money , Its not our fault the cheap food became expensive because coles and woolworths told you it was cheap while they screwed everyone.

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    3. Jeff Payne

      PhD in Political Science and Masters in Public Policy

      In reply to Bart Brighenti

      The 'who' that I am talking about that quickly comes to mind is when the Farmer's Federation helped fund the anti-union action against the dock workers. They helped fund, in a total act of bastardry, the training of a strike breaking dock workers in an attempt to destroy the MUA.

      http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/1998/02/ausf-f27.html

      This will not be forgotten.

      My point is that manufacturing workers, dock workers, office workers and farmers have a shared interest in establishing strategic economic protections. We can also work together to undermine the Coles/Woolworths monopoly, or better, introduce legislation to protect the interests of farmers. Why don't we subsidise farmers so we can establish adequate scales of production in organic foods? Together quality outcomes can be achieved to the benefit of both groups. Red/Green forever!

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    4. Bart Brighenti

      Farmer

      In reply to Jeff Payne

      totally agree that we should be working on sustainable agriculture and protecting it to make sure it doesnt fail because of undercutting by unsustainable production.
      Organic production i believe can work and even increase production in some industries however it will not be cheaper as it involves more labour, investment and management, but in saying that the return to growers increase would still be bugger all maybe and im guessing 20 to 50c a kilo more. thats as long as the middle men dont add higher margin percentages as they do now for premium lines,
      But we must look at banning foods that have widespread antibiotic use like imported seafood, people dont realise how dangerous this is and the risk of antibiotics becoming ineffective.

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  9. Gordon Angus Mackinlay

    Clinical Psychologist

    The comments re 'level playing field' are totally correct, Australia has one for importers, importers do not bother.

    Anyone who believes that Chinese imported food is of the highest quality needs their credibility monitor replaced, because it just is not.

    China is losing viable agricultural land at a horrendous rate every year, food from China is in fact mainly grown overseas, Africa currently the main source with major efforts to acquire land in South America, notably Argentine and Ecuador…

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  10. Christopher White

    PhD candidate

    I'm afraid I must agree with the other commentators on this article. My partner is Japanese and will not touch any imported food with "made in China" on the label for the simple reason that Japan has had far too many problems with imported Chinese foodstuffs.

    However many rules and regulations the Chinese government attempts to impose, the fact remains that corruption is not merely endemic in China – it is institutionalised; bribery and back-room deals are simply a matter of course.

    If the Australian preserved food industry goes the way most of this country’s manufacturing industries seem to be – which is to say off-shore – and I am faced with buying mostly Chinese-made products, I for one will be buying all my food at farmers markets or growing my own.

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    1. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Christopher White

      And that may be a good thing.....farmer's markets are wonderful community builders.

      Here in Torquay there is a market every Saturday morning, and it attracts a large crowd. Great fruit & veg - organic if you want it.

      Tomatoes, peppers, lettuce etc are all easy to grow in pots, and taste faaaaabulous.

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  11. Christopher Seymour

    Business owner

    No mention here of the 95 page enterprise agreement that includes 9 weeks leave and special allowances for all kinds of things - reminiscent of the worst kinds of agreement in the mining industry. To survive in a competitive world, management and labour need to work together .to find the most efiicient ways of doing things.
    The world has moved on from canned fruit, if we in Australia want to maintain living standards higher than the world average, then we must find ways of doing things better and more efficiently than the world average.

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    1. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Christopher Seymour

      Nothing wrong with canned fruit.....

      Perhaps we could slide down a peg for a while or two, lete those less fortunate others catch, and all move forward together.

      nah forget it - too romantic an idea.

      But as the 95 pages - with you there.

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    2. Steve Phillips

      Nurse Practitioner

      In reply to Christopher Seymour

      Not all the mining industry. When the market for xxxxxx (sorry cant ID as Im at work) goes down we lay off, reduce awards, create redundancies, stop projects and generally get by on as little as we can. When the market rises we; increase staffing, increase awards (bonuses, Christmas treats and the like) projects restart and budgets increase and dividends are paid to shareholders (me included). Then the cycle starts again.
      Where I work has no union at all. If we were unionised like some others we would have to go broke satisfying the union demand that nothing change.It is why we are the only major producer still going.

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    3. R. Ambrose Raven

      none

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      How about a link to this fabled enterprise agreement instead of concocted claims? It will be on the Fair Work website.

      If you know anything about it, you'd know that the almost universal standard is 4 weeks annual leave, or 5 weeks for shift-workers. Presumably you've added together all possible forms of leave - for all of which the company can demand evidence. But surely even Abbott won't knock off every worker's close relative so they all need bereavement leave this year?

      FYI, Keeping…

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    4. Jeff Payne

      PhD in Political Science and Masters in Public Policy

      In reply to Steve Phillips

      With all respect Steve I think you're falling for the stuff that falls out of a cows arse. Mushrooms like it but personally I like my life to be lived free of the stuff, thanks.

      Gina Rinehart earns around $20,000 per minute. She makes probably about twice as much as you earn while she takes a dump (depending on her diet for the day). It is not worker's entitlements which result in mine closures but the profit motive. Let's do this, if an owner of a mine chooses not to run a mine let's allow the…

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    5. Steve Phillips

      Nurse Practitioner

      In reply to Jeff Payne

      With all due respect, I earn what I earn a d if someone else earns more then good luck to them. I dont tear myself up inside with envy.
      I was born to middle class immigrants and do quite nicely thank you. Gina was fortunate enough to be born into wealth. So what!

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    6. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Steve Phillips

      I don't think you were meant to "tear [your]self up inside with envy".... you need to re appraise that how much SOME people earn is disgusting, and that such wealth concentration does no one any good, whether working class, middle class, or upper class. Even if you earn $200,000 a year, your position in society is under threat from people who earn telephone numbers.

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    7. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Steve Phillips

      2014 Oxfam report "85 people own more than the poorest 3.5 billion people on the planet"

      This statistic from Oxfam is staggering. Just 85 people, the top 0.00000001 percent, own as much as the poorest 3.5 billion people on the planet.

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    8. Steve Phillips

      Nurse Practitioner

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      What is an acceptable salary?
      I started work as a butcher earning $70/wk I went through a series of jobs culminating in a nursing degree and a job that pays twice the ave nursing salary. If Id listened to my wife Id be a millionaire. Does that make me evil?

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  12. Garry Baker

    researcher

    This very much looks like a warmup exercise to sell SPC to the Chinese

    The way things are going here, yet another nail in our coffin

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    1. Sean Rothsey

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Garry Baker

      Between 2006 and 2012, notable recipients of all Chinese investment inflows into Australia have been mining (73%) , gas (18%) , renewable energy (4%) and agribusiness (2%) – in fact only USD1.048 billion has been invested by China into Australian agribusiness in that period.

      Over that period US investment (24 %) into Australia is 10 times that of China, the UK (14%) and Japan (10%). Even Singapore is almost double at 4%. China is the 9th largest investor in Australia.

      I think that that…

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    2. Tom Fisher

      Editor and Proofreader

      In reply to Garry Baker

      SPC would do far better owned by Chinese than it would by Coca Cola Amatil, which as I pointed out here last week is British Tobacco in bed with the lolly water and grog brigade trying to appear respectable by having a few canned fruit labels in stock.

      Again, here is their product list: http://ccamatil.com/OurBrands/Pages/Australia.aspx

      No discussion here yet on pricing policy and shelf life comparison between fresh fruit and vegetables and canned fruit, and soft drinks, alcohol and tobacco…

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    3. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Sean Rothsey

      Thanks for the info...interesting data.

      I don't think it's so much investment and development in Oz by overseas nations - it's more that Australians can have a viable local food and agriculture industry.

      Personally I wouldn't sell a metre of land to overseas nations or investors, but that my be irrational and impractical!

      And another point being made here is the integrity of imported food.
      Plus I guess the volume, and the potential to become reliant on overseas food.

      To me it is just madness to stand by and watch the agricultural industries wither on the vine.

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    4. Garry Baker

      researcher

      In reply to Sean Rothsey

      Sean ..Interesting shot at the depth of ownership here. However, there's not a single government department that has ever kept track of the buying spree in Australia. ABARE make claims, the FIRB make claims, but they are as hollow as they come. Indeed, mere brochures for the Treasury. Fact is, "anyone" can waltz into Australia and buy anything they want - land, corporations etc, so long as that single transaction falls under the radar of a $248 million limit. The FIRB are not the least concerned…

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    5. Sean Rothsey

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Garry Baker

      Yes Gary.US and New Zealand investors in Australia are exempt from thresholds that are applied to Chinese investors (e.g. the FIRB threshold currently at $248 million and screening limits at $1.1 Billion).
      Australian politicians are proving intractable on that disparity despite public announcements and they draw comparisons with China's own regulations.
      Treasury and FIRB move slowly and Chinese investors into Australia are not on a level playing field-yet.
      However, to my mind China’s regulator…

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    6. Robert Tony Brklje
      Robert Tony Brklje is a Friend of The Conversation.

      retired

      In reply to Tom Fisher

      The first question to ask is why is SPC losing money. Simple the easy answer is Coca Cola Amatil paid to much for it and when they bought it they simply dumped that debt, the cost of buying it, back into SPC and SPC simply can not service that debt. That is how it works, then they blame it on Unions in order to strip down wages to pay the debt created by big bonus earning executives. Often those debt repayments created by the owning company are claimed as losses and shifted offshore tax havens where they are actually profits because of massive internal interests rates charged on the artificially created debt. All digital shuffling or economists illusion in order to lie, cheat and steal from everyone.

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    7. Alex Fletcher

      retired medical practitioner

      In reply to Robert Tony Brklje

      Thanks for the astute comment.

      This is consistent with economics professor Michael Hudson’s description of financial capitalism’s strategy of corporate raiding in USA.:-

      “Much as real estate investors apply the principle “Rent is for paying interest,” corporate raiders view corporate profits as a source of paying bankers for credit to buy the company. They calculate a company’s cash flow, and promise this to bankers and bond investors. As bidders vie to see who will acquire the target, the…

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  13. Tom Fisher

    Editor and Proofreader

    The one big problem with this argument is only party to do with the wider reality of Chinese food not being cheap but Australian food and everything else Australian being far too expensive, but with this artificial distinction between sovereign jurisdictions, and presumed quality.

    Australia has only very recently attended to quality assurance issues, and then hotly contested throughout. It has only come about during the past generation or so, which in real terms is well within my lifetime. This…

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    1. Clifford Heath

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Tom Fisher

      What a mound of stinking rubbish. Just 4km from here is the government lab that found LEAD in Chinese peaches. If they had reached the supermarket shelves, they may well have been cheaper, but the point of having government policies and testing regimes is that the consumer cannot tell that the product contains lead. We expect our government to detect that and to protect us. The case of lead found in peaches was just the tiny tip of the iceberg; most such violations are simply never detected because the enforcement is so weak.

      If we apply (and enforce!) the same food standards to imported product that we apply to local product, the price differential would start to show a very different story. We have the affluence (due to high pay rates) to afford to pay for premium quality products - but those will only continue to be available if our producer are protected from being undercut by pretty-looking but poisonous imports.

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    2. Sean Rothsey

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Tom Fisher

      Absolutely !!!!!

      Ive given some figures ( source University of Sydney and KPMG report October 2013) ...and some narration , in the thread above.

      No amount of whinging is going to change the realities of our uncompetitiveness, nor of the realities of the Asian century. We are competitive on food safety and consumers in Australia and China will and are voting with our pockets.

      Food safety, food security, and food sovereignty are all enhanced here in Australia if we have the financial, human and other capital required. The Government and CCA are telling us that we are not getting the money from them !!!

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    3. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Clifford Heath

      Don't forget the crappy horse meat scandal.........so much for honesty and scruples (and standards) in food production.

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    4. Bart Brighenti

      Farmer

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      or the sewer oil or the poison rice or the rat and fox meat or the fake eggs or the fake honey or the human hair soy sauce or the fake apple juice

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    5. Bart Brighenti

      Farmer

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      The question of the morality of a people that knowingly put a poison into baby food, This wasnt the work of an uneducated peasant that found a bag of melamine in the back shed, It would have taken someone with chemical property knowledge as well as understanding of the testing process to come up with this

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    6. Sean Rothsey

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Bart Brighenti

      Indeed Stephen and Bart, and we have similar scandals ( past and not so past) in our own history.
      Enhanced food safety ( the quality assurredness of every part of the food chain - from seed to plate, paddock to plate or whatever) is something that we have - and they don't.
      The Gutter oil ( see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gutter_oil) incident where gutter oil is used in restaurants and even pharmaceuticals and the dead pigs incident in Shanghai last year http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_Huangpu_River_dead_pigs_incident) where pigs dead from disease were sold into the food chain, both validate that there are still issues in food safety in China.
      There lies our opportunity in the Asian Century.

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  14. Lee Hatfield

    logged in via Facebook

    one thing people are not considering is that canned fruit might be the wrong product for today. when i was a kid we ate a lot of it as we lived in the country and needed a food that was always available..now , unless you are quite remote, you can buy fruit and veg more easily and far more people live in cities, so can get very good quality fresh fruit. more frozen foods might be an option. , and having a good think on other ways to sell prepared fruit! i agree there should be more promotion of clean green aspects of local fruit over imported.keeping in mind most buyers of dodgy imported stuff don't read newspapers. they get info from t.v or their computer.

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    1. Sean Rothsey

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Lee Hatfield

      Absolutely nothing beats cleanly grown fresh produce - however in a mixed diet people have for a long while had a desire for cleanly grown and cleanly processed canned fruit and vegetable - particularly when it is out of season.

      In fact I believe that SPC plans for the capital uograde in lude plans for new product lines including plastic mini meal packs (like yoghurt for eg)

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  15. John Clark

    Manager

    Is there not a contradiction in "economy of scale" and "80% <10 employees?

    Is the opportunity and challenge offered to grow the product, export it to China then buy it back?

    The game plan now in Australia seems to be - establish a viable small business - expand it for economy of scale, then sell it to overseas interests to close down.

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  16. John Kelmar

    Small Business Consultant

    Again we see a Large Business chasing Government handouts simply because they are unable to compete against so-called "cheap imports".

    Clearly, there is a deficiency in the Management skills within these organisations, as many business are extremely profitable marketing their products and services on quality and performance, not on price.

    In all my businesses that I have owned (8 in total) I never had a problem selling my products at prices higher than my competitors. At one stage I owned a stationery business, and when Officeworks opened up about 300m away I found that my sales increased because my service was far better, even though my prices were sometimes higher.

    It can be done - all it takes is the right person, with the right skills and mind-set, and the ability to implement appropriate strategies, which appear to be lacking in SPC, Holden, and Ford.

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  17. Bart Brighenti

    Farmer

    Absolutely right, China has fixed up the problem with Food Scandals simply by making sure their are no more whistle blowers easy-- Whistle blower=DEAD= No problem . I bet the next person who thinks about talking out knows his fate. ( http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-11-23/china/35318412_1_milk-contamination-melamine-contamination-whistleblower)
    It is logistically impossible for the chinese authorities to inspect the food producers and even harder to find exactly…

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    1. Michael Hay

      retired

      In reply to Bart Brighenti

      SPC and all the other industries which have gone to wall since 2008 - Ford, Holden, Alcoa (almost), have found the high Australian dollar has closed down the exports they rely on in order to make a profit.
      At present our manufacturing industries and all our value-added industries are being decimated by a bunch of 'funny-money' currency traders who line their own pockets at Australia's expense.
      Almost every serious Australian economist has written about this, but our inane Hockey finds it impossible to even make a comment, much less make an intelligent move.
      If our dollar was at 65 cents USA as it used to be when we were were rich and expanding exporter, we could regain our status to the point where exports were viable and imports were more expensive than our local production..
      But we need an economist or two in charge, not a bunch of idealistic nincompoops.

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    2. Bart Brighenti

      Farmer

      In reply to Michael Hay

      Thats right Michael, while the rest of the world drop their currency to boost their economy, our fools from both sides sat back and played on while the boat was sinking.
      Given our dollar is still at high levels what will happen when it does go down again, then lets see what happens to these cheap imported cars that will go up 30% and the cheap food

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    3. Bart Brighenti

      Farmer

      In reply to Jeff Payne

      well put jeff, but also Ross garnaut whi was the adviser to hawke/ keating said they floated the dollar to drop the dollar as it would buffer the removal of protection. It worked for a while and when the dollar jumped, he said they should have changed tack , this included fixing the dollar.

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    4. Sean Rothsey

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Jeff Payne

      Yes Jeff , SPC Ardmona managing director Peter Kelly said todsay in an interview with skynews that "it has been assessing work practices for many months and has made significant improvements in productivity."He said "We are doing our best to reduce all costs across the business, however the serious problems that have beset SPCA have not been because of labour costs and certainly not from the allowances, a fact borne out by the Productivity Commission's recent analysis,"
      "The business has been severely…

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  18. Sandra Hey

    Retired

    As matter of principle I personally will not under any circumstances buy any food that is grown and exported into Australia from China. If I wish to indulge in Asian food, I will only buy from either Japan or Korea and in some cases from Thailand. Other European Countries would be at the bottom of the list if I cannot buy Australian Grown and bottled or canned in Australia. At the end of the day it is all about stupid FREE TRADE AGREEMENTS and PROFIT GOUGING from our Corporations that is undertaken to fund these EXCESSIVE CEO SALARIES AND BONUS. Just as well I am reaching the end of my life otherwise I would end up starving.

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    1. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Sandra Hey

      There's a resurgence in the "old" Fowlers Vacola home bottling.

      I remember it from my youth when it was ubiquitous throughout the land. Fruit and Veg by the truck load stored in cupboards around the nation.

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  19. David Arthur

    resistance gnome

    I find the very premise of this article ridiculous.

    1) China's industrial takeoff has been conducted by the cheapest dirtiest techniques available - why worry about keeping your country clean if you have a surplus of humans, and your biggest concern is keeping enough jobs coming to supply this population with jobs?

    2) Transporting food from China to Australia requires the burning of vast quantities of fuel oil (fossil fuel) and consequent CO2 emissions. Err, that's no longer geophysically tolerable - but too many decision-making humans who seem unaware of this.

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