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Australia’s food manufacturing industry in foreign hands

Written by: Duncan B. on 24 August 2022


Vanguard has often reported on the extent of foreign ownership of Australian farm land and our grazing, cropping and horticulture industries. Another cause for concern is the degree of foreign ownership of our food and drink manufacturing industries, the next step in the food chain from grower to consumer.

Many well-known Australian food manufacturing companies have finished up in foreign hands. Arnott’s, Fosters, Goodman Fielder, Uncle Toby’s and Golden Circle are just some of them. There are many more.

Apart from Bega and some small dairy companies which are still Australian-owned, most of our dairy processing industry is owned by companies based in France (Lactalis), New Zealand (Fonterra) and Canada (Saputo).

Lactalis is the world’s largest dairy company, with a dairy sales turnover of US$ 26.7 billion in 2021. It owns Australian brands such as Paul’s milk and recently purchased Jalna Yoghurt.

Fonterra is the world’s sixth-largest dairy company with a turnover of US$14.8 billion. Western Star Butter is one of Fonterra’s famous Australian brands.
Saputo comes in at number ten with a turnover of US$10 billion in 2021. Devondale is one of Saputo’s Australian brands.

Brazilian-owned JBS is Australia’s largest meat processor. JBS brands include Primo small goods. They supply meat to McDonald’s and to Coles, Woolworths and Aldi.

Frozen vegetable production in Australia is mainly owned by the US company JR Simplot. Bird’s Eye, John West, Edgell, Leggo’s and Chiko are among the Australian brands controlled by Simplot.

It now appears that Tassal, the last of Australia’s largest salmon producer is to fall into foreign hands. Canadian aquaculture giant Cooke has finally succeeded in its fourth attempt to take over Tassal. As we reported previously, environmentalists are very concerned about this take-over due to Cooke’s poor environmental record.

One notable exception to the trend is Treasury Wines, the makers of Penfolds and many other well-known brands. With a market value of $10 billion, Treasury is a major player in the world’s wine industry. Experts suggest that even Treasury is not immune to takeover by a larger company.

Australian consumers are being hit with rising food prices. Australian farmers are seeing little or no increase in the prices they receive for their products while the prices they pay for fertiliser, power, fuel and other inputs are sky-rocketing. The big two supermarkets (Coles recent $1 billion profit for example!) and the mainly foreign-owned food manufacturing companies are the ones benefitting from the high cost of food in Australia.


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