Whether the much-publicised announcement of a free trade agreement between the UK and Australia turns out to be a ‘bonzer’ deal for our food manufacturers remains to be seen.
The agreement could see iconic British brands such as Marmite become more ubiquitous on supermarket shelves Down Under, according to our government. Whether Australians reared on Vegemite will want to eat it though is a moot point.
But the lack of detail regarding animal welfare standards and food health raises important questions for manufacturers who import Aussie produce for their own UK food products, including composites like lasagne.
Opportunities Down Under
The free trade agreement offers a number of potential opportunities for British food manufacturers that are looking to source tariff-free meat and dairy products from outside the EU.
From the beginning of the year, EU imports of such products into Great Britain have incurred higher duties and, from October, veterinary certificates will be introduced as well, inflating costs even more.
While UK farmers may struggle to compete on price with the big industrial-scale ranches in Australia, our food manufacturers could benefit from cheaper products and lower duties. They will have access to a greater variety and quantity of raw materials as we secure more free trade deals with countries around the world.
The lure of cheaper imports and reduced red tape – whether it’s bypassing complex EU rules of origin or less stringent export health certificates – may make it more attractive to source ingredients from Oz, rather than Europe.