By Matthew Wright Australian retailers have taken a huge hit after the federal government unveiled a new cost-cutting measure for pastel fruit juice.
The legislation will see all pastel juice producers have to pay $150,000 to the Australian Food and Drug Association to ensure their products can continue to be sold in Australia.
The $150K figure has sparked widespread concern among pastel-producing industry groups and the public.
“We don’t want to see the Australian food industry suffering, we don’t care if the milk industry suffers, but we do want to have a clear set of standards,” the chief executive of the Australian Pastel Juice Association, John Wilson, said.
“That means that pastels and other non-dairy products can’t be made into pastel products in Australia and that means that we’ve got to pay to be able to make them.”
Mr Wilson said the price hike was a “huge loss for Australian consumers”.
“It’s going to affect the dairy industry, it’s going of the meat industry, the fruit and vegetable industry, all sorts of things, and we’ve seen the consequences, it’ll impact our jobs, it will impact our ability to make the products that we produce in the Australian market,” he said.
The new legislation will come into effect on November 1, meaning retailers must be prepared to charge $50,000 each month for pastels, fruit juices and cream-coloured milk products.
“They’re not going to be happy,” Mr Wilson said.”[They’re] going to lose their jobs and they’re going to have to put a price on their product.”
MrWilson said he expected the change to be welcomed by dairy farmers, who have long argued that pastel pastels are more profitable than the more commonly used alternatives.
“I think we’ll see that the farmers who have been working for a long time and have been doing a lot of research and development, are now going to see that they are better off, they are not going lose money and they can take their product into other countries and export it,” he explained.
“It will help a lot in terms of jobs.”
Mr Watson said the proposed price increase had “been a long-term investment”.
“This is something that we have been looking at for a while, and now we have to do it,” Mr Watson said.
Mr Wilson has called on the federal Government to change its approach to pastel and other milk products, arguing that the price increase would harm farmers.
“If we go back to the past, you’re going go to the same milk, the same butter, the milk’s going the same price,” he argued.
“So it’s not a great investment in the dairy sector, in terms and quality of milk.”
The Australian Pastels Association also said the $150k price increase was “very concerning” and that it was “unfair” for farmers to be penalised.
“The cost of this [new price] is just too much for a lot or a lot more than the current milk prices in Australia,” the group’s CEO, Robert McVicar, said in a statement.
“This new legislation is a significant step in the right direction but will only affect the milk producers that we know and trust, not the consumers who buy the milk.”