Food and grocery manufacturing workers a priority industry

The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) welcomes the NSW Government’s decision to ensure that essential food and grocery manufacturing workers get priority access to Pfizer COVID vaccines to help ensure our national food and grocery supply is maintained.

There is a 20,000 strong workforce across the areas of concern in South and Western Sydney that help to keep the many food and grocery manufacturing businesses in this area operating, supplying essential products that Australians consume every day.

AFGC CEO Tanya Barden said that these business help to ensure that the supermarket shelves are stocked and that there are food, cleaning and personal care products for hospitals, aged and disability care, food donation charities such as Foodbank and home meal kit providers. Importantly, access to vaccines for essential workers will help to not only secure food and grocery supplies but also ensure that workers are safe at work and when they return to their community.

“Essential food and grocery businesses – from major employers such as Primo, Tip Top, Goodman Fielder, Bega and Kellogg, through to small-medium sized businesses such as Maggie Beer Foods and Birch and Waite – are doing all they can to help keep their staff safe and operations going,” Ms Barden said.

“We thank the NSW Government for listening to industry and for their efforts in providing access to Pfizer for these essential workers as well as backing industry to use Rapid Antigen Testing if they choose to as an additional defence against the spread of COVID-19. The AFGC encourages other state governments to take a similar approach to recognising the importance of the industry through similar measures.

“The people working in food and grocery manufacturing are providing a vital service during this pandemic and priority access to vaccines is recognition of the importance of their work to all Australians and of providing a safe workplace and confidence for their families”.

“It is essential that we increase vaccination rates in these areas of concern, especially for younger people where the numbers are higher and to help provide greater security of food and grocery production/ distribution in these areas.”

Ms Barden said it was important to remember that food and grocery production and distribution is safe, reliable and highly efficient in Australia. This decision by the NSW Government will help to minimise disruptions to food and grocery production and distribution, providing confidence to consumers that essential products and their favourite brands will continue to be available thanks to the skill and efforts of our food and grocery manufacturers,” Ms Barden said.

Food and grocery manufacturing has a strong presence in Australia, as Australia’s largest manufacturing sector. This is a $132 billion industry nationally employing over 270,800 people with an export value of $41 billion annually. There are over 16,000 business across the country representing 32 per cent of all manufacturing jobs and 40% of those are in regional Australia.