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The shortage of crops in Australia is likely to force the country’s agriculture sector to increase the prices of its foods in the near future, the chief executive of a major food manufacturer says.

That could lead to dozens of imported animals being culled and meat and milk products possibly sold with expired claims, allowing companies to pay more for their products in times of rising costs for farmers.

As the global food price has soared over the past year, including a sudden drop in poultry and beef prices, Australian farmers, already struggling with bumper crops of fruits and vegetables, have seen prices rise, with Australians seeing the biggest hike since 1993.

In an editorial published on Sunday by the industry publication Business Daily, Gerard Kitchin said the industry would have to choose between trying to further expand production and seek to export more and bringing in more competition, or fall back on cost-cutting.

“The crisis is worse now than it was in 1996 — much worse,” Kitchin wrote.

The Australian government also warned the country’s food distribution system is under direct pressure from rising production costs.

Australia has also struggled to keep up with surging demand for its staple foods over the past decade.

The upsurge in demand spurred food consumption to rise faster than incomes in Australia, despite a long record of having low food poverty rates.

Australia has boosted its production and exports and set quotas in what it calls an “obsession” with food sustainability and impact.

But the higher production has lifted costs and also spurred critics to raise concerns that the higher level of production is sacrificing the environment.

Vestas Energy and industry group the Australian PorkLivesciences Association (APLA) on Monday morning warned that beef imports from countries such as Canada and the United States might be a problem if it was “unfair to our beef industry that Australia is the world’s number one supplier of beef.”

Australia’s competition watchdog this month announced several new measures, including a “take price” system for manufacturers and distributors and government support for producers to boost their profitability.


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