Strawberry prices drop due to oversupply

Strawberries are selling for well below the cost of production due to an oversupply.

Recent rain in the major growing areas of southern Queensland has resulted in damaged strawberries being dumped onto the market, right at the season’s peak production time, ABC Rural reports.

Jennifer Rowling, industry development officer with the Qld Strawberry Industry, said the combination of events means there's a lot of cheap strawberries around.

“Prices have been fairly stable because there has been some bad weather and some growers lost a lot of fruit.

“But they seem to be getting rid of the fruit that was badly affected.

Rowling said some growers lost between 50 and 90 per cent of their product.

“One grower lost 25,000 trays of strawberries which is a massive loss.”

Gavin Scurr, managing director of Piñata farms, which grows strawberries on Queensland's Sunshine Coast and Granite Belt said the costs of production on the farm is about $1.80 per punnet.

“Early in the season, when there's not much product around, we get a lot more than $1.80 but, at the moment, when they're selling for $1.25 that's well below the cost of production.”

Scurr said the retailers selling cheap strawberries aren't making any money either.

“Coles and Woolworths are paying similar to that sort of money… selling them at cost… so they're really trying to move this flush through so that we can get the price back up again.”

 

Farmers turn to crowdfunding

Landcare and internet platform Pozible have formed a crowdfunding partnership for farmers.

Marketing manager at Landcare NSW Jenny Quealy said 25 farming projects will be chosen next month during Landcare Week, ABC Rural reports.

“Landcare has just recently received 100 expressions of interest, ranging from fish hatcheries, to fish ladders, saving endangered species, to planting trees in bushfire affected areas … or even new sheds,” she said.

“We often don’t think of farming as a creative pursuit, but it is.

“It’s about time that farmers, graziers and producers got involved, putting out their ideas and seeing if they can get some funding from the world.”

Quealy says those who have big ideas they’d like to have crowdfunded don’t need to be tech-savvy.

“The tech side of it has been done for you,” she says, “because the platform sets that up. It's very simple to go to the website where the Landcare and Environment Collection is and there you can find a very simple form where you can start a project.”

 

Will the hazelnut shortage hurt Nutella supplies?

Turkey, the world’s largest producer of hazelnuts is facing a major shortage of the nuts due to bad weather.

The country, which is responsible for 70 percent of the world’s hazelnuts may produce 30 percent less nuts hazelnuts than expected, Good Food reports

The shortage has caused over a 60 percent spike in price for the nuts this year.

The news is getting Nutella fans worried, since Ferrero buys as much as a quarter of the world’s hazelnuts, and relies heavily on Turkey for supply.

But Nutella is able to somewhat protect itself from market pressures, since it acquired a Turkish hazelnut manufacturer Oltan Group earlier this year.

The Ferrero Group may also look to Australia for supply in years to come, as a subsidiary of the group, Agri Australis, established of a $70 million hazelnut production facility in Riverina, in December last year.

However harvest is not expected until March 2018, with hazelnuts hoping to be in full production by 2022.

 

Australia pulls out of world food expo

Australian food producers will miss out on next year’s World Expo in Milan due to the federal budget deficit.

Foreign minister Julie Bishop has confirmed Australia cannot spare the millions of dollars needed for a pavilion, The Australian Financial Review reports.

The Australian embassy in Rome and the Consul General in Milan will instead hold trade, tourism and networking events outside the Milan Expo.

Bishop said “this presence will support Australian organisations and business activities to participate in promotions alongside the Expo which emphasise our people-to-people and cultural connections.”

Australia has previously been part of two World Expos in Yeosu, South Korea in 2012 and in Shanghai, China in 2010.

A DFAT report on Australia’s Shanghai pavilion estimated the exhibition had generated $10 million of positive media coverage for Australia, and rated the project as an “unequivocal success”.

Shadow infrastructure minister Anthony Albanese criticised the Abbott government’s decision to pull out as an “enormous lost opportunity” to showcase Australia’s food industry to Italy and Europe.

The Victorian government, however, will put forward $1.25 million for its own exhibit and will be the only formal Australian presence at the exhibition.

The move is a means of increasing the state’s two-way trade with Italy which is worth over $1.4 billion a year.

The Napthine government said the state’s exhibition would help attract investment and celebrate the relationship between Melbourne and Milan.

 

SA cheesemakers announce $15m partnership with local farmers

South Australian cheesemakers La Casa Del Formaggio have formed a partnership with six local dairy farms to begin the direct supply of farm milk.

The two-year contract will provide the family-run business with fresh milk seven days a week from the Myponga/ Mt. Compass area.

“We are delighted to form partnerships with local family farms. We think our customers will be pleased to know the majority of our milk is produced right in our own backyard,” said La Casa Del Formaggio managing director Claude Cicchiello.

The deal which is said to be worth $15m, is designed to be mutually beneficial for both the cheese company and the farmers, with protections in place against harsh fluctuations in the milk market.

“The idea was formed to create stability for both our business and the farms,” said Cicchiello.  “With this security, our farmers can invest in their farms and grow their herds knowing they will always receive a good price for their milk. This in turn helps our company because we know we will have consistent supply of good quality milk at fair prices which helps our business to grow.”

Gino Pacitti, a spokesperson for the group of farmers said that deal will enable those involved to make long-term strategic decisions.

“This will enable us not only to stabilize our current business, but it will give us the capacity to grow and evolve,” says Pacitti. “This partnership provides lasting stability and security for our next generations.”

The company, now entering its 25th year, makes over 20 authentic Italian cheese products for the national retail market under the La Casa Del Formaggio brand at their factory in Glynde, South Australia.

 

Strong growth expected for milk industry: IBISWorld

Milk and milk alternatives, including soy and grain milk, are expected to post strong revenue growth over the next five years to reach $4.2 billion by 2019-20, IBISWorld has found.

Between 2014-15 and 2019-20, revenue across all categories is forecast to grow by an annualised 3.9 percent.

“Increasing consumer health consciousness, the continuing promotion of the benefits of milk and dairy, and the diversification of tastes as new milk alternatives emerge are all driving a gradual increase in milk consumption and revenue for the industry,” said IBISWorld Australia general manager, Daniel Ruthven.

A growing demand for health food products that are perceived to be low in fat while also offering higher protein levels, essential minerals and iron has driven the growth for dairy alternatives including soy and almond milks.

The soy and almond milk production industry posted annualised growth of 5.9 percent between 2009-10 and 2014-15. Above average growth of an annualised 4.3 percent is expected through 2019-20.

"While traditional dairy products are high in calcium, they are also high in cholesterol. Soy milk, almond milk and other plant-based dairy alternatives are typically protein-rich and low in fat and sodium, making them appealing to health-conscious Australians," said Ruthven.

Over the next five years, new investment capital is expected to benefit the milk and cream processing industries – which in recent times has struggled due to adverse weather – with the sectors expected to enjoy revenue growth of an annualised 4.4 percent to reach more than $2.4 billion in 2019-20.

Exports
Another industry at the mercy of the weather is milk powder processing, however strong export demand has kept the industry buoyant and increased the price premium for Australian milk powders overseas. IBISWorld expects that 70 to 75 percent of Australian milk powder is bound for overseas markets, with revenue forecast to jump by an annualised 3.1 percent over the next five years to reach $1.6 billion in 2019-20.

Australian producers are expected to continue to target growing overseas markets, with exports including fresh, long life and dehydrated milk worth more than $38 billion to the Australian economy per annum.

"Australian dairy farmers typically produce far in excess of our nation’s needs. Fresh milk has largely been unsuitable for export, as it has a short shelf life, but we are increasingly seeing examples of milk being airfreighted to Asian markets. Traditionally, fresh milk has been processed to make cheese, or dehydrated to make milk powder," said Ruthven.

"The growing demand for quality dairy products, including milk, in Asia has been most recently demonstrated with initial shipments of fast-tracked fresh milk to China. Since early 2014, dairy co-op Norco has transported drinking milk to Chinese consumers within seven days via airfreight. This is a remarkable development for the just-in-time model, particularly considering that it previously took 21 days for milk products to pass Chinese quarantine.”

Free trade agreements with Korea and Japan are expected to increase demand for Australian dairy products, and IBISWorld expects increasingly strong demand from the top four foreign markets: China, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia.

"Further free trade agreements, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and the bilateral agreement with China, are expected to boost Australia's exports of milk and milk products.

"Despite significant progress being made with China, the country maintains substantial trade barriers. It has demonstrated a willingness to negotiate on reducing some tariffs following a 2008 trade agreement with the world's largest dairy exporter, New Zealand. A similar agreement between Australia and China could hold the promise of an incredibly valuable – and increasingly wealthy – market for our exporting dairy farmers," Ruthven said.
 

MLA MD promises to engage with farmers

Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) managing director, Richard Norton, has promised to involve beef producers in research and marketing decisions.

MLA is currently facing tough criticism from a Senate Inquiry into beef levies, ABC News reports.

Norton said he’ll be out talking to farmers to hear what they want, and to promote MLA’s achievements.

“MLA particularly in pastures is developing a new legume 'Tedra' (from the Mediterranean) which will take on lucerne,” Norton said.

“In terms of Breed Plan in the Australian cattle herd; it’s evolving and coming up with new measures to improve the performance of the Australian cattle herd.”

“Meat Standards Australia (that grades Australian beef) is a program that is now nearly a decade old, it delivers premiums above the grid price for cattle,” he said.

“The average premium is about 28c/kg of dead weight on a carcase of 240-250 kilograms. That premium is about $60-$70 a head, with 30 per cent of Australian cattle herd is going through MSA, that’s $160-$170 million a year. It costs MLA $3.5 million a year to run.”

Norton admitted there is some criticism of MLA for being too heavily influenced by the processors, but said the processors would say it’s the other way around.

“MLA is the pathway for processors to access matching funds from the Government. So the producer is doing objective measurements of carcases etc. MLA is doing development of innovative products for the consumer.”

“A major part of my role for certainly the next two years, is be in front of levy payers having the debate about what MLA is delivering.”

MLA’s response to a review, into the organisation's handling of research has yet to be released publicly, despite being completed 12 months ago.

Norton said the board has instructed him to respond immediately on an effectiveness and efficiency review on the research and he said he’ll be asking producers what they want research and development levies spent on.

"It’s all about engagement by MLA staff and being accountable."

Researchers are concerned about the shrinking budget leading to no new projects.

Grass fed cattle levies are $5 from every cow sold, and the prolonged drought in Queensland and northern NSW has decimated the herd, which will lead to Australia's lowest numbers in 20 years (26.1 million head in June 2015).

Norton agrees it's a problem, and says the MLA Board has instructed him to look at how to maintain the research and marketing budget.

 

Jamie Oliver campaign success a “furphy”: AUSVEG

Woolworths has claimed its Jamie Oliver healthy eating campaign has been “great” for growers, but AUSVEG isn’t convinced.

Woolworths has said the campaign has received a “great response from customers” who are “buying more fresh food”, ABC Rural reports.

“It's great for our customers to be eating better and great for our growers to be selling more fresh produce,” Woolworths said in a statement.

But AUSVEG chief executive Richard Mulcahy said Woolworths’ does not have evidence to back its claims.

“Frankly, we're a bit sceptical about what benefits will flow to us,” Mulcahy said. “We'd like to see people increase their consumption, but I'd have to say that generic marketing of fruit and vegetables – there's a long history of this not having much impact.”

“In terms of the overall per capita consumption, we've seen very little movement in 20 years.”

“I don't think this will have any positive impact … I think that's a furphy. I think it's all about market share for a particular chain. Not one country in the world that has embarked in generic marketing has seen any per-capita increase in consumption,” he said.

The campaign has been heavily scrutinised by AUSVEG, who called upon the ACCC to investigate Woolworths’ behaviour, who are allegedly seeking contributions from Australia’s horticulturalists to pay for their Jamie Oliver campaign.

According to AUSVEG, the payment is in the form of a new 40c per crate charge on top of the 2.5 – 5 per cent fee growers are already required to pay Woolworths for them to market and promote their produce.

Woolworths said the contribution was entirely voluntary and that the contribution is less than 2 per cent of the cost of a case of produce.

AUSVEG then wrote to Jamie Oliver, requesting that he ask the retailer to give refunds to the farmers who have contributed to the campaign.

The Jamie Oliver Group responded and said Oliver is concerned, but has no sway with the grocery retailer.

In a letter to AUSVEG, the Jamie Oliver Group said “Jamie, naturally, is concerned when he hears about small producers suffering financial hardship and your letter will be discussed with Woolworths further at our next senior-level meeting to ensure farmers are completely clear about the aims of the program”.

 

Crowdfunding pays off for Wakefield Grange

The first two weeks of the Wakefield Grange Nose to Tail Pozible crowdfunding campaign have proved to be very successful.

With 18 supporters coming forward to pledge funds, Wakefield Grange has reached over 10 percent of the $30,000 target with seven weeks to go in the campaign.

The campaign aims to raise enough funds to establish an on-site commercial kitchen and curing room, in which Sophie and Nathen Wakefield will produce a wide range of house-cured smallgoods and farm fresh charcuterie products.

The creation of a commercial kitchen and curing room will mean that the Wakefield’s will be able to utilise secondary cuts of meat and offal in their smallgoods and charcuterie, an important aspect of their whole-animal approach.

As well as producing their own range of meat products, the commercial kitchen will be available to lease by other primary producers who want to sell their wares to the public, and will also be used for a variety of on-farm education events.

If Wakefield Grange raises the $30,000, it will become the first agricultural business in South Australia to crowdfund successfully.

“There is a real passion in South Australia for genuine farm-fresh produce and for affordable, premium quality meat that has been produced sustainably,” Sophie Wakefield said, “and in extending further the ranges of meat products that we provide, we hope to be able to meet this growing demand.”

In recognition of their support, Wakefield Grange is offering funders a range of tempting rewards, ranging from fresh meat, smallgoods and charcuterie products, to butchery classes, farmgate shop vouchers and tickets to on-farm events.

The campaign runs until 19 August 2014, to make a pledge click here.

 

New “black apple” developed to rival Pink Lady

The same WA researchers that developed the Pink Lady have grown a new “black apple”, following 20 years of research.

The Department of Agriculture and Food has 75,000 trees sitting in nurseries near Manjimup ready to distribute to growers, The West Australian reports.

It’s expected it will take about two years for the fruit officially known as ANABP 1 to appear on shop shelves.

Agriculture Minister Ken Baston revealed on Wednesday (2 July) that agreements were in place for the apple to go into commercial production, with Fruit West Co-operative managing the process.

Baston said the royalty stream had the potential to underpin the future of Australian apple breeding.

Fruit West Co-operative chairman Ben Darbyshire said he took his hat off to the world-class team based at Manjimup who developed the apple.

"It is a special apple in a lot of ways," Mr Darbyshire said. "It connects with the eye and has a magical taste.

"This apple will be available for every grower to plant and ultimately it will be dev-eloped as a global variety.

"We have tried to align it with the Pink Lady, which came out of the same world-class breeding program."

The apple has been kept under wraps up until now after it was assessed and the intellectual property rights locked away.

The fruit has been taste-tested in virtual secret on consumers while trees were grown in limited numbers on South West orchards.

The apple was developed under the Australian National Apple Breeding Program with investment from the State Government and Horticulture Australia.

 

Citrus producers enjoying 30 percent price boost

Citrus producers in Western Australia are experiencing a price boost due to a strong overseas demand.

WA Citrus Industry Improvement Group chair Shane Kay said early season prices are up about 30 per cent on the same time last year, ABC Rural reports.

Kay said markets such as China are responsible for the price hike, and he expects demand to continue.

"The demand and the price has been quite good," Kay said.

"Most growers I've spoken to are quite happy with the way things are going," he said.

"There's been a lot of citrus exported from Australia this year, the demand into some of the export markets is quite strong from the eastern states.

"The last two or three years have been pretty tough for citrus, it's refreshing to start off on the right foot.

"The way the demand is, I can't see why it will change too much.

Last week The China Agricultural Wholesale Markets Association (CAWA) signed a memorandum of understanding with Citrus Australia, aimed at boosting exports from Australia.

 

Food trail map designed to showcase the Sunshine Coast’s food industry

Sunshine Coast Destination Limited (SCDL) is developing a new food trail app which is designed to showcase the region’s diverse food offering thanks to a grant from the Queensland State Government.

The Sunshine Coast food trail app and mobile site develops customised drive itineraries throughout the region to suit individual tastes, and will provide visitors with the opportunity to visit small scale producers such as Suncoast Gold Macadamias, together with markets, restaurants and local festivals.

The food trail app will help visitors engage and interact with the region’s extensive and diverse product and mix with the many foodie characters and personalities operating on the Sunshine Coast.

SCDL say that the app will provide a strong platform to leverage Tourism Australia’s new “Restaurant Australia” initiative in international markets and, will be used by Business Events Sunshine Coast (BESC) as a tool to encourage more conferences to the region. The BESC team indicates that food and produce are increasingly becoming motivators in the conference market decision making process.

Additionally, the app will serve as a search opportunity for suppliers of unique produce and food products, thereby creating new distribution channels for producers.

CEO of Sunshine Coast Destination Ltd (SCDL), Simon Ambrose, said that the project would give recognition to the outstanding progress the region had made in recent years to develop its food culture.

“The region aims to establish itself as one of the country’s leading food tourism regions, with events such as the Noosa International Food and Wine Festival and the Real Food Festival already attracting extensive interest both nationally and internationally,” said Ambrose. “The food trail app will help bring together all the elements that make up the region’s food and wine culture, and make it easier for visitors to connect and engage with our best food tourism experiences.

“The food app project will allow the region’s three councils – Sunshine Coast, Noosa and Gympie – to provide a ‘one voice’ approach to developing the Food Trail project.”

 

$6 mill ricotta plant opens at Stanhope

Fonterra Australia has announced the official opening of its $6 million ricotta plant at its Stanhope site in northern Victoria.

At the opening was the Federal Member for Murray, The Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP and Victorian Member for Rodney, Paul Weller MP, who joined local farmers and community members to witness the site produce its first batch of Perfect Italiano ricotta for sale.

Managing director of Fonterra Australia, Judith Swales said “This investment strengthens our presence in northern Victoria and is another step towards achieving our goal of having the most competitive and sustainable dairy supply chain in Australia.”

“Perfect Italiano Ricotta is the number one brand of ricotta in Australia and its popularity will only increase as Australians continue to use ricotta more and more. This investment will ‘future-proof’ the Stanhope site and helps us continue to build on the success of the Perfect Italiano brand,” Swales said.

Construction of the new plant began in late 2013 and included large building works and the introduction of new ricotta machinery and equipment. The project was supported by a $250,000 grant from the Victorian Government’s Industries for Today and Tomorrow program

The Stanhope plant is one of Fonterra Australia’s major cheese manufacturing facilities. It produces a range of cheese products for domestic and export markets, and collects 340 million litres of milk annually from roughly 260 suppliers in the region.

 

Jamie Oliver weighs in on Woolworths campaign being funded by growers

The Jamie Oliver Group responded to Ausveg’s plea for support by saying Oliver is concerned, but has no sway with the grocery retailer.

In a letter to Ausveg, the Jamie Oliver Group said “Jamie, naturally, is concerned when he hears about small producers suffering financial hardship and your letter will be discussed with Woolworths further at our next senior-level meeting to ensure farmers are completely clear about the aims of the program”.

“As I'm sure you know, Jamie is essentially an 'employee' of Woolworths and as such he has no sway regarding the commercial direction or negotiations that the Woolworths business takes”.

Ausveg Public Affairs Manager, William Churchill said “Ausveg is disappointed in the lacklustre response from the Jamie Oliver Group for not taking a stronger stand on the issue after AUSVEG exposed Woolworths last week who are levying farmers 40c a crate to pay for their new marketing campaign”.

“This is in stark contrast to the position Mr Oliver took in 2012 where he signed an open letter to The Times objecting to the price of milk. It’s sad that a similar stand has not been made here,” Churchill said. “Growers have seen this levy by Woolworths as a slap in the face and a double dip into their wallets and are rightfully outraged”.

“Woolworths are holding up one grower who has had to negotiate their payments for this ‘voluntary levy’ [and that] gives quite a strong indication that growers involvement is not because they are supportive of the campaign but because they don’t want to threaten their business with the supermarket giant”.

Last week (11 June), Ausveg wrote to Jamie Oliver, requesting that he ask the retailer to give refunds to the farmers who have contributed to the campaign.

 “We have no issue with Mr Oliver, but for Woolworths to ask hard working Australian growers to stump up this additional money is unreasonable, unfair and un-Australian,” Churchill said.

Reports emerged that Woolworths are demanding hundreds of thousands of dollars from individual growers around Australia to fund their new campaign on 6 June after Ausveg held a press conference with Independent South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon to call upon the ACCC to investigate the supermarket.

Ausveg alleges that the funding for the campaign is being collected in the form of a new 40c per crate charge on top of the 2.5 – 5 per cent fee growers are already required to pay Woolworths for them to market and promote their produce.

A statement from Woolworths maintains that the contributions were “entirely voluntary”.

"It’s disappointing that Senator Xenophon and Ausveg didn’t contact us," the statement read.

"We could have explained that the contribution was entirely voluntary, how around half our suppliers chose to work with us on the campaign which benefits the whole fruit and vegetable industry and how participating growers are paying less than 2 per cent of the cost of a case of produce."

 

Who’s funding Woolies’ Jamie Oliver campaign?

VIDEO: This week’s news wrap-up is all about Woolworths' Jamie Oliver campaign, which AusVeg says is being funded by the supermarket giants' growers.

According to the lobby group, Woolworths is hitting producers with a 40 cents per crate charge on top of the up to five percent fee they already pay for promotional activities.

Woolworths denies the claim, however, arguing participation in the campaign is voluntary.

Hear all about it in our latest The Week in Focus video below.

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Food grants axing, a “slap in the face”: Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance

The federal government has axed the $1.5 million Community Food Grants program, which would have seen funds invested in projects including farmers markets, food co-operatives, community gardens and city farms.

According to the ABC, grant applicants were advised by letter that the program had been reviewed and it was decided not to continue with it because of the “tight fiscal environment.”

The funding was announced by the former Labor government in May 2013 as part of the National Food Plan.

Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance’s national co-ordinator, Nick Rose, said the Community Food Grants program, which had attracted 364 applications, represented the first time the federal government had officially recognised the community food sector.

“And really the justification that it's in any way going to make any difference to the total government Budget bottom line is quite frankly ludicrous. We're only talking about $1.5 million," he said.

"Really, it's quite a petty and almost spiteful slap in the face to people who have a different vision, different set of values about what food and farming can mean for this country."

However a spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture said the government remains committed to Australia’s agriculture industry.

"This is why the government is developing a White Paper Agricultural Competitiveness, which will drive long-term agricultural policies and ensure Australia's agriculture sector remains a significant contributor to the national economy and local communities,” the spokesperson said.

 

Industry and government unsure about ACCC price setting powers

The federal government, the Greens and the National Farmers Federation are all unsure that giving the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) the power to set farm gate prices is the best solution to unsustainable discounting.

Last week it was announced that Coles and Woolworths will transfer the discounts they’re no longer allowed to apply to petrol to grocery items, and while discounting can help both the consumer and producers with excess produce, chairman of the ACCC Rod Sims says it’s important that supply contracts are honoured and that discounts don’t last so long that they damage other retailers.

According to the ABC, the National Farmers’ Federation voiced similar concerns, arguing that long term discounts can hurt food producers.

"While cheaper prices for consumers are important when mums and dads are balancing their budgets, I'm sure they'd all like to see that they can continue to buy Australian food into the future. And if that's to be the case, then we need to have a system in place to make sure that both farmers and food processors can survive as well,” Matt Linnegar, chief executive of the National Farmers' Federation, said.

Providing the ACCC with the power to set the farm gate prices isn’t necessarily the best option, Linnegar added.

"When it comes to the powers of the ACCC, and whether it's the ACCC or some other body or ombudsman, what we need to ensure is that the activities of those in the supply chain are [not] going to have a detrimental impact on others in the supply chain, that needs to be addressed in some way.

"I'm not sure whether giving the ACCC the power to set prices is the answer. I think you'd need to have a long, hard look at that before you went down that path,” he said.

Small Business Minister Bruce Billson, agrees, and says the government has set up the root and branch review of competition law to look at pricing issues. There is also existing legislation in place to prevent predatory pricing.

"There are constraints on the extent of, and the way, discounting can be implemented, that guard against predatory pricing where discounting is used to wipe out competitors," he said.

 

Coles opens three new ‘foodie destination’ stores in Sydney

Three new Coles outlets, opened on 4 December, will include freshly-prepared takeaway meal options, Lavazza coffee and dedicated Coles Simply Healthy Living sections.

The new supermarkets, which cost Coles more than $15 million, are located in Bondi Westfields, Broadway and Balgowlah and are expected to create more than 200 jobs.

The openings incorporate insights gathered from a trial store set up in Southland, Victoria, and represent a new phase in Coles’ store renewal plan.

As well as over 1,800 new products available across the three locations, each of the new-look stores features a Coles Kitchen, selling freshly prepared take-away options such as sandwiches and baguettes, as well as sushi and hot and cold oven-baked pizzas and pies.

Customers will also be able to purchase Lavazza coffee from the new-look Coles bakery, which will offer an expanded range of artisan breads, as well as cakes and pastries sourced from Marrickville’s Manna from Heaven bakery and sold at the new Coles patisserie. Coles Broadway will also have a fresh juice bar.

Other additions include a new continental delicatessen with a floor-to-ceiling glass cheese wall, and a range of fresh pastas, specialty cheeses and cured meats, as well as an upgraded fish counter and a fresh meat department complete with a dry-ageing cabinet and a marinating and crumbing service for customers.

The fruit and vege will be displayed in a ‘market style fresh produce’ section, with produce kept on ice, as well as a new loose nut unit for nuts and dried fruits.

There will also be dedicated Coles Simply Healthy Living sections in the new stores, offering a range of ‘Free From’ and ‘Coles Simply’ products, all located in the one place.

Simon McDowell, Coles marketing and store development director, said the new store layouts are all about creating an outstanding experience for consumers every time they shop.

And the changes go beyond the products of offer, he added.

“These stores are also innovative beyond just what they sell, with a comprehensive sustainability plan to operate smarter, ‘greener’ stores. All three stores incorporate back-of-house and customer recycling programs, food rescue partnerships with SecondBite and the Salvation Army. Through energy efficiencies including LED lighting and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, we are taking responsibility and playing our part to Help Australia Grow.”

 

Biosecurity job cuts puts our clean food reputation at risk: WA farmers

Australia's reputation as a clean, green food producer is under threat with the Federal Department of Agriculture announcing it's to cut 220 jobs, with biosecurity staff the first in line.

West Australian farmers say this will threaten the country' reputation as a clean food producer, with WAFarmers president, Dale Park, arguing biosecurity staff play an essential role in keeping the food producing industry free from harmful pests and diseases, thewest.com.au reports.

"They are taking dangerous risks with our industry and as the foot and mouth study highlighted the cost of vigilance is far, far lower than the potential cost losing markets and our ability to produce clean and green food," Park said.

The study Park refers to is a new costing model from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES), released one month ago, which found that a foot and mouth disease outbreak would cost Australia $50 billion over a decade.

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry is offering voluntary redundancies to staff in its border compliance division in Canberra – which plays a key tole in manaing biosecurity protection – as well as the passenger, mail and cargo programs in the regions.


 

Woolworths considers launching new ‘Local’ brand

In order to satisfy consumers' growing interest in the welfare of local producers, grocery giant Woolworths is considering launching a new retail brand, Woolworths Local.

With both Coles and Woolworths facing increasing scrutiny over where they source their produce, Woolworths has created marketing imagery for a new label, ‘W Local’, which could be used in both its grocery stores and liquor shops, as well as being used in a retail banner for convenience stores and petrol stations, TMWatch reports

Woolworths has also registered the domain name www.woolworthslocal.com.au and “Woolworths Local” as a trademark.

The branding could be used across a wide range of products, Woolworths confirmed, including frozen, tinned, snack and packaged foods.

In January this year Woolworths announced its Local Food Sourcing Strategy, which involved supporting small and medium sized producers in Australia and negotiating with them to create appropriate production and supply arrangements.

Tjeerd Jegen, Woolworths managing director of Australian Supermarkets and Petrol said "We recognise that supplying 890 Woolies stores can be a daunting prospect for small and medium businesses, and may simply be beyond the reach of their production capacity.  Woolworths’ Local Sourcing Managers will work with these suppliers to design a plan that suits their business, whether that’s supplying three stores, or 300 stores.”

The local focus comes at a time when both supermarket chains are under scrutiny from the ACCC, which is investigating claims Coles and Woolworths employ bullying tactics to force producers to drop their prices.
A high profile food brands including Simplot and SPC Ardmona have cited an increasing presence of cheap, imported food products on retailers’ shelves as a key contributor to the tough times they’re experiencing.

Just last week a Goulburn Valley fruit grower began www.foodmag.com.au/news/vff-commences-the-removal-of-goulburn-valley-fruitclearing about 850 plum trees – one of 170 growers told by SPC Ardmona that their fruit will no longer be accepted because an influx of cheap imports, the high exchange rate and a decline in export markets is putting pressure on local food manufacturers.