Positioning Australia to proactively address global aspirations
With a global population expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, changing climates, supply chain and workforce disruptions, rising input costs, and nutrition-related public health concerns, there is widespread recognition that food systems must change if they are to provide for current and future generations.
Sustainable and equitable food systems will be vital to improving the health of humans, environments, economies, and cultures; placing them at the centre of the international sustainability agenda. The growing momentum for change has been strengthened by the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit, which brought together key players across the world.
Through strong immediate action, Australia can make strides at a national level, maximising the collective social impact of the nation’s food systems while becoming more competitive in global markets.
Meeting Australia’s challenges head-on
Australian food systems challenges
33% of Australians experienced moderate or severe food insecurity in the past 12 months (3.3 million households)
Dietary risks are responsible for 5.4% of burden of diseases - ↓ from 5.9% in 2015
Nearly 7.7 million tonnes of total food wasted and 3 million tonnes of post-consumer packaging to landfill annually
53.2 farm infrastructure index score (out of 100)
High-income country average: 59.3
(higher = more developed)
The average Australian diet emits 1.2 tonnes CO2 equivalents per year per person
Total food systems emissions equate to 6.8 tonnes CO2 equivalent per year per person
The average water footprint of the Australian diet is 362 litres per person per day
Water to produce food, weighted by the water scarcity at source
2.6% of workforce employed in agriculture
OECD average: 4.8%
↓ from 3.2% in 2009
49.5 Climate Risk Index Score (out of 100)
43rd most at risk out of 181 countries
Native vegetation assessed “Poor”
Soil health assessed “Poor”
75.3 supply chain infrastructure index score of (out of 100)
High-income country average: 73.1
11.1% of goods exported are food exports
OECD average: 9.1%
↑ from 10.9% in 2011
Feeding an estimated 60-75 million people across domestic and export markets, Australia’s food systems generally provide safe, high-quality food to consumers. However, these current systems do not feed all Australians equitably or sustainably. They also continue to grapple with a growing number of local and global challenges, threatening the ability to provide consumers with reliable access to nutritious food and participants with fair wages and livelihoods now and into the future.
This Roadmap identifies 27 opportunities and a series of R&D priorities that may enable Australian food systems to become more sustainable, productive, resilient, and equitable for participants and consumers alike. These fall across five focal areas:
- Enabling equitable access to healthy and sustainable diets
- Minimising waste and improving circularity
- Facilitating Australia’s transition to net zero emissions
- Aligning resilience with socioeconomic and environmental sustainability
- Increasing value and productivity.
A series of entry points for specific actions have also been captured and are outlined in the supplementary material below. Input from over 120 stakeholders across industry, government, research, and the community, has informed these findings.
This report does not present a single way forward, but rather offers a menu of options that can inform future transition pathways and dialogues.
|Enabling equitable access to healthy and sustainable diets||Minimising waste and improving circularity||Facilitating Australia’s transition to net zero emissions||Aligning resilience with socioeconomic and environmental sustainability||Increasing value and productivity|
|Integrate equity and sustainability principles into the Australian Dietary Guidelines||Implement sustainable and recyclable packaging with improved labelling||Reducing emissions through nature-based solutions||Improve environmental health, biodiversity and sustainability outcomes of agricultural practices||Diversify exports for long-term economic prosperity|
|Secure access to healthy and safe food for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities||Educate and empower consumers to reduce food waste||Strengthen markets for low carbon and nature-positive land use||Diversify food supply chains to improve system flexibility||Create additional value-add opportunities for Australia in global value chains|
|Support localised food systems and innovative business models||Transform waste into Australian value-added products||Expanding the availability of climate-neutral foods||Strengthen Australia’s sovereign manufacturing capabilities and workforce||Regional leadership through the sharing of technology solutions and expertise|
|Government and business collaboration to reshape commercial food environments||Reducing emissions through innovative technologies||Bolster transparency and trust of food supply chains||Promote healthy landscapes to protect current and future productive capacity|
|Leverage institutional procurement to prioritise healthy and sustainable diets||Integrate renewable energy sources throughout the food supply chain||Promote integrated regional planning for industry development||Expand Australia’s self-determined Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander food industry|
|Educate and empower consumers to eat healthier||Creating diversified lower emission protein products and markets||Advance industry-wide adoption of risk management and sustainability strategies|
|Reduce emissions from food loss and waste|
Download the report
- Reshaping Australian Food Systems PDF (5 MB)
- Reshaping Australian Food Systems (accessible text) TXT (229 KB)
Explore the supplementary material
- Glossary PDF (163 KB)
- Glossary (accessible text) TXT (25 KB)
- Sources for infographics PDF (111 KB)
- Sources for infographics (accessible text) TXT (16 KB)
- Additional action areas PDF (454 KB)
- Additional action areas (accessible text) TXT (61 KB)
Find out more
Want to learn more about Australia’s opportunities to re-shape food systems? Talk to CSIRO Futures about how we can help.
- Read the Transforming Australian Food Systems PDF (2 MB) discussion paper
- Read the Transforming Australian Food Systems (accessible text) TXT (68 KB) discussion paper
- Read the media release: CSIRO roadmap charts Australia's food and nutrition security by 2050
- Learn more about the Food Systems Horizons joint initiative between CSIRO and University of Queensland