New national program set to boost fruit and veg businesses across Australia

The first national program designed to encourage consumers to shop for fresh produce at their local independent retailer has been launched this month, which will unite the fruit and vegetable industry and bring back consumer loyalty.

The ‘A Better Choice’ program, a joint initiative by Fresh Markets Australia (FMA) and the Central Markets Association of Australia (CMAA), sees FMA and CMAA working hand-inhand with industry partners to conduct a range of branding and co-promotional activities.

The program supports 500 independent fruit and vegetable retailers nationally, who supply more than half of the fresh produce sold across Australia, by engaging consumers and highlighting the benefits of shopping at independent retailers.

FMA Chairman Shane Schnitzler said the national program will benefit growers, wholesalers, retailers and associated fresh produce businesses for generations to come.

“A Better Choice offers retailers the opportunity to come together and share the benefits of a national marketing strategy to shape a positive future for independent retailers, the central markets and local farmers who supply them,” he said.

“This program has been developed following in-depth research and feasibility studies to learn more about consumers’ shopping habits and what matters most to them when it comes to purchasing fruit and vegetables.”

A national consumer sentiment survey found the key motivators for consumers to shop at their independent retailer were the freshness of produce (92%), supporting a local business (90%), and trust in the quality of the produce (86%). However, more than 88 percent of people surveyed still chose to shop at supermarkets due to the perceived convenience.

“Whether it’s in the form of social media, flyers or in-store activities, our message to consumers is that when you see the ‘A Better Choice’ logo you can be assured that you are buying only the freshest produce that has been grown right here in Australia,” Mr Schnitzler said.

FMA works alongside the Central Market System which is made up of over 15,000 growers, supplying wholesalers in the major marketing and distribution hubs in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Newcastle.

The Central Markets are connected to every link in the supply chain and provide the critical connection between growers and consumers to bring the freshest produce to Australian tables.

Brisbane Markets Limited CEO Andrew Young believes a national program will educate more people about the benefits of shopping at independent retailers.

“Better Choice is really just that, a better choice for retailers, consumers and the industry. Australian growers produce excellent quality fresh produce and the A Better Choice program will help to highlight to consumers how they can better support local fresh produce growers and independent retailers,” he said.

‘A Better Choice’ was launched at Hort Connections on 18 June, the annual industry conference and trade show for buyers and sellers from every segment of Australia’s fresh produce and floral supply chain.