Processed food lobby must come clean on real effects of pollution price Media Release

Jul 13, 2011 - 2:49pm

The independent Climate Institute today challenged the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) to come clean on its far-fetched claims of price rises under the Federal Government’s Clean Energy Future package.

Corey Watts from The Climate Institute said Treasury modelling showed food prices would rise by just 80 cents a week or $40 a year, less than 0.5 per cent — modelling backed by ANZ Chief Economist Warren Hogan on Monday’s ABC’s AM program.

An assessment by the Grattan Institute also showed similarly modest price effects on food and grocery bills: just a few cents extra for common items like milk, bread, fruit, cereal and meat.

“The Australian Food and Grocery Council has repeatedly made extraordinary claims of price rises — far in excess of the results of expert study — yet repeatedly refuses to present their figures for public scrutiny,” said Mr Watts.

The Climate Institute recently began its own independent analysis of the impacts of a price on pollution on the cost of living, with the results to be published in coming months. The Institute wrote to the AFGC today, inviting them to make their modelling available so that it can be incorporated into this latest study.

“Unless and until they show some credible price modelling, it’s difficult not to see the AFGC’s tactics as plain, old-fashioned scaremongering,” Mr Watts said.

“It’s very hard to have an informed discussion about cost-of-living impacts unless they are prepared to have their analysis properly scrutinised by the Australian public.”

Mr Watts said that many of the AFGC’s members were already taking action to cut their carbon footprints and advocating stronger action on climate change:

Coca-Cola and Unilever, for instance, are amongst a hundred companies that recently signed on to a call for a stronger pollution reduction target in Europe, and Foster’s Group last month voiced their support for emissions trading in Australia.

“Responsible companies will want to ensure the body that purports to represent their views is accurate and evidence-based, especially when it comes to a reform of such importance to the Australian public,” Mr Watts said.

He noted that the Government’s Clean Energy Future package includes $150 million fund to help food processors switch to cleaner energy and more efficient operations.

Mr Watts said it was important to keep the carbon price in perspective: according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, grocery prices spiked by an average 12 per cent during the last drought, and the recent floods and Tropical Cyclone Yasi forced fruit prices to rise 14.5 per cent and vegetables by 16 per cent.

For further information (and comment): 
Corey Watts, Regional Projects Manager, The Climate Institute (03) 9600 4039

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