Australia’s spirits industry has welcomed the Federal Government’s Inquiry into Food and Beverage Manufacturing in Australia, which was announced this week following a referral from the Minister for Industry and Science, the Hon Ed Husic MP, on 18 March 2024.

Committee Chair Rob Mitchell MP said: “The inquiry will examine the state of innovation in the industry, including new technologies for post-farmgate food and beverage manufacturing and packaging, and opportunities for growth in new product markets. It will also consider shifting consumer trends, the role of the research sector and future workforce needs.

“We want to hear from large and small manufacturers about their experiences, hopes and fears for the future – whether you’re a Food and Drink Business top-10 firm, a third-generation family business, or in the start-up or venture capital sectors. We are also looking for the views of experts in food science, process engineering and packaging.

“This is such a diverse and exciting part of our economy. We want to hear about how the Government can support the sector to thrive.”

Australian Distillers Association chief executive Paul McLeay said the Government is to be commended for establishing an inquiry that will enable the spirits industry to showcase its potential.

“This announcement is very timely for the Australian spirits industry, which has clear potential for an export boom like that previously enjoyed by wine,” he said.

“Our industry has experienced rapid growth in recent years, with over 700 distilleries and manufacturing plants across the country, supporting more than 5,700 jobs in spirits manufacturing and a further 100,000 jobs throughout our value chain.

“We have built a reputation for producing innovative world-class spirits, building global consumer demand for quality spirits made in Australia.

“The industry generates $15.5bn in added-value to the Australian economy, however, this contribution could be even greater with policy settings that encourage domestic and foreign investment in our industry.

“We will then be in a position to enhance our manufacturing capabilities, grow exports and create jobs at our distilleries, half of which are located in regional areas.

“We look forward to sharing this story with the Committee in the coming months.”

Spirits & Cocktails Australia chief executive Greg Holland joined in welcoming the inquiry.

“This is the first ever Federal Government inquiry that is open to the spirits sector, which has made remarkable progress in recent years,” he said.

“Spirits manufacturing needs a comprehensive plan to ensure our growth is sustainable over the longer term.

“Without targeted interventions, the Australian spirits industry will be left behind as governments in other emerging spirits markets – like Japan and Ireland – invest in the potential of their domestic industries.

“We thank Minister Husic for this opportunity to demonstrate how Australia’s world-class spirits industry can help achieve the Government’s objective of rebuilding the manufacturing sector in Australia.”  

The Committee invites written submissions addressing any or all of the inquiry terms of reference by Wednesday 1 May 2024. The terms of reference and additional information on the inquiry can be found on the Committee’s website.

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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