Australians are being warned the price of food is set to rise again amid calls for a national food security plan.
The national food supply chain alliance says long-term supply chain issues, caused by ongoing natural disasters and labour shortages, will lead to further price increases in the next 12 months.
The group is made of representatives from the red meat, vegetable and seafood industries, farming federation, food distributors, restaurants, grocers, convenience stores and transport.
The alliance's Richard Forbes says consumers can expect food prices to rise by a further seven per cent in the next 12 months, if supply chain issues aren't dealt with.
"A national food security plan will bring all the pieces of the puzzle together," he told AAP.
He said the plan would include a national food map identifying where crop shortages would be in the event of natural disasters, as well an audit of the national supply chain.
The alliance said recent threats including natural disasters cutting transport routes, have highlighted Australia's food supply chain's deficiencies.
"Once infrastructure is disrupted, food prices go up," Mr Forbes said.
And he warned Australian consumers will pay more if a plan is not introduced.
The alliance said that was because of rising input costs, with the food supply chain experiencing a 27 per cent increase in the cost of operations over the past nine months
"We will try and make a shorter more efficient supply chain. We will look at all the issues that are disrupting the supply chain and we can then develop strategies to try and prepare better, and at the moment we are unprepared."
The head of the Australian Association of Convenience Stores Theo Foukkare said families were already feeling the squeeze.
And he told AAP an urgent plan is needed.
"Where we'll really see it coming into effect is when we have the next natural disaster or the next pandemic," he said.
The alliance has called for a working group to be set up and to include all food supply chain stakeholders, to devise a national food security plan.
The opposition has joined the calls for the government to do more, accusing Labor of failing to take meaningful action to support the food supply chain.
Deputy Labor Leader Sussan Ley warned the food supply chain was being taken for granted by the Albanese Government and households would feel the pain this Christmas.
"Anthony Albanese is fast becoming the Grinch who stole Christmas, as Australian families are forced to cross items off from their shopping lists because they can't afford them this holiday period," Ms Ley said.
"The reality is Australians will pay more for their Christmas spread because the Albanese Government hasn't got its act together to support our food manufacturers and distributors."
But Agriculture Minister Murray Watt defended his government's record on fixing supply chain issues.
"As a government we are taking action with targeted measures to deal with these issues, by getting more skilled people into the workforce and mitigating the impacts of natural disasters,'' he said.
"I have also asked the House Standing Committee on Agriculture to inquire into and report on strengthening and safeguarding food security in Australia."
The parliamentary inquiry into food security in Australia, which started in October, is investigating the impact of supply chain distribution on the cost and availability of food.
Australian Associated Press
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