Changes in East Asian Food Consumption: Some Implications for Australian Irrigated Agriculture
This paper reviews the implications of economic growth for food consumption in Asia, the East Asian supply responses and the determinants of Australian competitiveness in meeting Asian demand from production in Australia. Our special interests are to draw out some implications for Australia’s irrigated agriculture and for the organisation of the export business of that sector of the economy. A key question is the scope for increased exports of fresh rather than processed products. Sources of Australian competitiveness include land, climate, water, proximity and seasonal complementarity to Asia. The ‘clean and green’ image of Australia is an asset although one vulnerable to abuse; so the coordinated national campaign to exploit it faces the same free-rider problems as other common-property resources. The most important structural aspect of the export business is the organisational form of the industry and its component enterprises. The differences between organisational forms common in the growing and processing phases of food production can be traced to quality control issues. The best organisational forms for export of processed compared to fresh food may not be the same but the absence of appropriate forms of organising export business for fresh products is the major disadvantage of Australian horticulture.
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