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Staying competitive: why Australia’s food companies don’t need to struggle

​The landscape of global food production is changing, and with it, comes a need to adopt stronger employment practices more efficiently than ever before.

Australian food producers have a lot on their plate these days. Despite the long-overdue turnaround of the food and grocery industry, margins remain slim and the ongoing challenge of staying competitive continues to hang in the air.

Of course, one the biggest questions facing local FMCG and food processing companies is how to stay relevant in a market swamped by foreign imports. Multinational goliaths are rationalising factories globally, and dispensing with superfluous personnel and equipment to drive bottom lines even lower. In contrast, Australian companies are operating amidst a backdrop of supermarket price wars, rising labour costs, energy restrictions and regulator charges – all of which have a flow-on effect to the consumer.

Industry is certainly feeling the effects. Farmer-owned SunRice is one of the latest Aussie companies to batten down the hatches and announce job cuts. Even the Federal Government has had to weigh in, slapping anti-dumping measures on Italian tomato exporters to help save Australia’s troubled SPC Ardmona.

Essentially, FMCG and food processing companies are being required to ‘do more with less’.

Australians are a resilient bunch, however, and the good news is this challenge presents a golden opportunity for smart and proactive companies. ‘Lean’ manufacturing principles are helping local businesses not only survive, but also thrive. Synonymous with Japanese production systems, lean manufacturing has, at its core, a laser-sharp focus on the elimination of all waste from all processes – from the preparation of a can of beans, right through to logistics operations and sales.

When typically looking at waste within a business, Labour Solutions Australia managing director Ed Hinschen says the first point of call should be the workforce itself.

“Smart key decision-makers will question whether or not an operation can be omitted or refined, while streamlining or separating others,” he says.

“It sounds obvious, but ensuring you have the right people for the right job at the right time can be a challenge.”

One of the biggest keys to doing more with less is having a workforce that can be ramped up or scaled-down based on need, such as seasonal requirements or market trends.

“The mining sector is well-known for having a fit-for-task labour force in periods of peak demand, but other sectors are less keen to move towards a scalable workforce – and it’s to their disadvantage. It’s a practical approach that allows managers the flexibility to adjust the number of employees when the need arises,” Ed says.

“This change must be from the top-down to be sustainable. Without this, the business will simply be doing less with less.”

Australia’s food processing and FMCG companies are under unprecedented pressure to evolve, and it’s times like this consultation with experts in temporary labour hire and outsourced employment solutions will help increase output, efficiency, and productivity.

Contact Labour Solutions Australia on 1300 268 986 to find out more about how we can help.