Woolworths further reduces plastic packaging

Even during the  COVID-19, 70 per cent of Australians are continuing to rank taking care of the planet and making sustainable choices as important to them, according to research revealed by Woolworths Group for World Environment Day.

Woolworths has introduced a number of initiatives to further reduce plastic across a range of fruit and vegetables, including bananas, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, broccolini, sweet potatoes and organic apples.

By moving out of plastic clamshell and into adhesive tape for bananas, replacing rigid plastic trays with pulp fibre on tomatoes, moving to a paper tag on broccolini and reducing plastic film by 30 per cent in weight on carrots and potatoes, Woolworths has removed  237 tonnes of plastic packaging in the past year.

The tray Woolworths uses for its sweet potatoes and organic apples is now made of recycled cardboard, rather than plastic.

Woolworths has also commenced a trial of where it will switch plastic packaging in its Fresh Food Kids range of apples, pears and bananas to easy-to-recycle cardboard boxes.

Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci said; “Something that was very surprising during COVID was the continued relevance of the environment, with 70 per cent of Australians saying that taking care of the planet and making sustainable choices remained important to them, even at the height of the crisis.

“While we’ve made pleasing progress in reducing the amount of plastic in our stores, supported recycling labelling initiatives, and made improvements in energy efficiency, sustainable sourcing and reducing food waste, we know there is still much more to be done to meet our customers and our own aspirations.” said Banducci.

Since Woolworths removed single-use plastic bags in 2018, more than 6 billion bags have been taken out of circulation. Earlier this week, W oolworths also started to offer paper shopping bags, made out of 70 per cent  recycled paper, for customers to purchase to carry their shopping home in.

In the past year, approx 10,600 shopping trolleys worth of soft plastics have been recycled through its in-store RedCycle program. Woolworths also removed a total of 890 tonnes of plastic from its fruit, vegetables and bakery ranges over the past two years.

This means that all Woolworths stores now have food waste diversion partners in place and in the last year alone, the supermarket has diverted over 33,000 tonnes of food waste from landfill to our food relief partners or donated to farmers as feed stock.

Woolworths partners with The Bread & Butter Project

Like many small businesses across the country, Australia’s first social enterprise bakery, The Bread & Butter Project, has felt the impacts of COVID-19 with café and restaurant and product distribution disruptions.

Normally operating as a wholesale bakery, which uses 100 per cent of its profits to support training and employment opportunities for refugees and asylum seekers in Sydney, the business identified a need to expand beyond supplying cafés and workplaces, many of which are currently closed.

The Bread & Butter Project has undertaken a complete pivot in its business model to now supply to Woolworths Metro food stores directly to ensure it can keep its doors open and continue providing high-quality sourdough breads and pastries over the coming months.

“In the second half of March, our café and restaurant sales fell by more than half – as the impact of COVID-19 on the hospitality industry hit hard,” said The Bread & Butter Project chairperson Cindy Carpenter.

“While we will continue to supply all our valued partners as soon as the current social distancing restrictions are lifted, we’ve also had to make some quick decisions to ensure our business remains operational in the meantime.

“As such, within two weeks we’ve shifted from being a largely wholesale enterprise to becoming much more consumer-facing via online retailers and supermarkets.

“We’re very thankful for the backing of Woolworths, who have an interest in refugee employment and responded to our need for more sales by instantly stocking us in 14 of their Metro stores.

“They’ve also worked extremely hard on our behalf to provide us with a good shelf presence, because we aren’t a well-known consumer brand as yet.”

“We understand how crucial our support is to help local businesses such as The Bread & Butter Project to keep up and running at this time,” said Woolworths Metro general manager, Justin Nolan.

“We are delighted to be able to work so quickly in getting their delicious breads and pastries onto our shelves. It’s a win-win for us – our customers love the baked goods and we’re also doing our bit to help support the important work they are doing in Australia.”

Carpenter said a number of new initiatives have also been implemented by The Bread & Butter Project to support this shift.

“This transition has meant making smaller loaves that are suitable for retail sales, while we are currently in the process of moving to retail-friendly packaging and having retail shelf displays made.

“In addition, we are increasing our in-store merchandising to ensure a strong shelf presence and adding ‘shelf talkers’ that tell our social enterprise story, while seeking to build better brand awareness because we can’t afford to advertise.”

Another vital outcome of keeping The Bread & Butter Project bakery open is its role in maintaining a much-needed income for its trainees, said Carpenter.

“Our trainees have often come to us from environments of political and social upheaval and when they arrive in Australia, many of them aren’t able to use their existing skills and experience in this country,” she said. “This is where The Bread & Butter Project plays a role in providing an income and a purpose, as well as crucial English language tuition and support.

“By keeping our doors open, we are keeping people employed who may be on Temporary Protection Visas or other visas, and who are not eligible for the government’s JobKeeper support program and would struggle to find alternative work in the current circumstances.”

At present, bread and pastry sales fund about 90 per cent of The Bread & Butter Project’s training and operational costs, with donations funding the remaining 10%, while volunteers and pro bono assistance also help the company achieve its goals. The Bread & Butter Project’s program sees trainees receive hands-on training in the company’s Marrickville bakery and a TAFE Certificate II in Food Processing, as well as intensive tutoring in English and numeracy. The program has graduated more than 70 professional artisan bakers into employment in Australia’s hospitality industry. id McGuinness, decided to use their baking expertise and community spirit to set up a social enterprise bakery to empower the least privileged in our community. Their vision was that Bourke Street Bakery would gift its time, baking and hospitality expertise to establish a wholesale bakery where 100% of the profits would go towards training and employment opportunities for refugees and asylum seekers in Sydney. The end result was The Bread & Butter Project.

Coles and Woolworths collaborate to guarantee grocery supply

Supermarket giants are coordinating immediately to ensure consumers have reliable and fair access to groceries during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) granted interim authorisation that will allow supermarkets to coordinate with each other when working with manufacturers, suppliers, and transport and logistics providers.

The purpose of this is to ensure the supply and the fair and equitable distribution of fresh food, groceries, and other household items to Australian consumers, including those who are vulnerable or live in rural and remote areas.

This authorisation applies to Coles, Woolworths, Aldi and Metcash. It will also apply to any other grocery retailer wishing to participate. Grocery retailers, suppliers, manufacturers and transport groups can choose to opt out of any arrangements.

Rod Sims, ACCC chair said Australia’s supermarkets have experienced unprecedented demand for groceries in recent weeks, both in store and online, which has led to shortages of some products and disruption to delivery services.

“This is essentially due to unnecessary panic buying, and the logistics challenge this presents, rather than an underlying supply problem,” he said.

“We recognise and appreciate that individual supermarket chains have already taken a number of important steps to mitigate the many issues caused by panic buying,”

“We believe allowing these businesses to work together to discuss further solutions is appropriate and necessary at this time.”

The ACCC granted interim authorisation on Monday afternoon after receiving the application last Friday.

The authorisation allows a range of coordinated activities but does not allow supermarkets to agree on retail prices for products.

Rod said the ACCC have worked “very swiftly” to consider this interim authorisation application, because of the urgency of the situation, and its impact on Australian consumers.

Coles is dedicating two Community Hour shopping periods per week to emergency services and healthcare workers, who are essential to protecting the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Coles is also spending an additional $1 million per week to extensively clean its stores and is in the early stages of rolling out our new Coles Online Priority Service and is looking to bring this service to as many vulnerable customers as possible.

On Tuesday 24 March, Woolworths has has announced its committed to the installation of protective plexiglass screens at the manned checkouts of each store across Australia in the coming weeks.

“Our stores remain open and we will continue to stand by the Australian community through this health crisis,” Claire Peters, Woolworths supermarkets managing director said on Tuesday.

The Department of Home Affairs has convened a Supermarket Taskforce, which meets regularly to resolve issues impacting supermarkets.

Representatives from government departments, supermarkets, the grocery supply chain and the ACCC are on the Taskforce.

The interim authorisation applies to agreements made as a result of Taskforce recommendations.

The ACCC will now seek feedback on the application. Details on how to make a submission are available on the ACCC’s public register along with a Statement of Reasons.

Woolworths to introduce a dedicated shopping hour for the elderly

Woolworths Supermarkets is introducing temporary measures across its stores to help support the shopping needs of the elderly and people with disability in the community.

For the rest of this week Woolworths Supermarkets will be opening exclusively for the elderly and those with a disability to shop from 7am to 8am, where permitted.

The move has been prompted by the unprecedented demand in supermarkets over the past week, which has seen many elderly and vulnerable people in the community missing out on vital items they may need when they shop.

Woolworths Supermarkets will open to ​all customers from 8am. Access to the store prior to this time will require a relevant Government issued concession card.

The revised opening hours are in place at this stage until this Friday (20th March), with Woolworths to review opening arrangements at that point.

“While we’ll continue to do our very best to restock our stores during this period of unprecedented demand, we know many of our elderly customers have been missing out on essential items when they shop,” said Woolworths Supermarkets’ managing director Claire Peters.

“This temporary measure will give them, and those with a disability, the opportunity to shop before ​our stores officially open – helping them obtain the ​essential ​items they need most in a less crowded environment.

“We continue to encourage all Australians to be mindful of those in our communities who might need extra help at this time. Now – more than ever – we need to be kind to each other, especially to those most vulnerable.

“We’d like to thank our customers for their patience and apologise for any inconvenience caused by the revised opening hours.”

The move follows the announcement last week that Woolworths Supermarkets had begun working with Meals on Wheels in New South Wales, via their network of volunteers, to help deliver toilet paper directly to the elderly in the community.

Endeavour Drinks joins forces with Shorty’s Liquor

Endeavour Drinks has entered into a strategic partnership with business-to-business drinks specialist Shorty’s Liquor to help take the proposition to more customers across Australia.

Established in 2001, Shorty’s Liquor is a leading drinks retailer servicing corporate customers and on-premise venues in Sydney.

Shorty’s Liquor offers online ordering and delivery to corporate offices in Sydney, and its client list includes a number of prominent financial services, legal, and advertising businesses.

Endeavour Drinks has acquired a majority interest in Shorty’s Liquor alongside its founder David Short and will support its growth plans in Melbourne, Brisbane and other capital cities over the coming years.

David Short will continue to lead the business within the broader Endeavour Group.

Endeavour Drinks managing director Steve Donohue said: “Developing new growth avenues is a key priority for Endeavour Drinks as we work to connect everyone with a drinks experience they’ll love.

“We have a proud track record partnering with innovative players in drinks having successfully integrated the likes of Dan Murphy’s, Cellarmasters and Jimmy Brings into our portfolio.

“Shorty’s has developed an exciting proposition over the years and we’re pleased to be partnering with them to build a presence in the business to business segment.

“We look forward to partnering with David and his team to offer even better value and more convenience to more corporate customers across Australia.”

Shorty’s Liquor Managing Director David Short said: “We’re thrilled to be partnering with Endeavour Drinks to help fuel our next wave of growth.

“We’ll benefit greatly from tapping into Endeavour’s national supply chain, while also retaining our agility as a distinct business within the group.”

In July 2019, Woolworths Group announced a plan to combine its drinks and hospitality businesses – Endeavour Drinks and ALH Group (‘ALH’) – into a single entity.

In December 2019, Woolworths shareholders approved a Restructure Scheme to combine Woolworths Group’s drinks and hospitality businesses to create Endeavour Group. Woolworths Group intends to implement the ALH Merger to combine Endeavour Group with Bruce Mathieson Group’s interests in ALH in February 2020.

Following the Restructure and ALH Merger, Woolworths intends to pursue a separation of Endeavour Group from Woolworths by way of demerger or other value accretive alternative. Separation of Endeavour Group by demerger will require shareholder approval.

Price war looms in supermarket sector as Coles drops prices

Coles has lowered the price of more than 300 products, introduced new big value packs and more own brand products as it starts upping the ante against main competitor Woolworths.

Customers will save on products they need to feed their family every day like RSPCA approved whole chickens down to $3.90 per kilo (down from $4.50 per kilo), RSPCA approved chicken thighs reduced to $11 per kilo (down from $12 per kilo), crumpets down to  $1 per 6 pack (from $1.35) and lunch wraps down to $2 per 6 pack (from $2.30).

Coles chief marketing officer, Lisa Ronson, said this new campaign is to help lower the cost of living for Australians.

“We’ve been reviewing the products our customers are buying every day and determining where we can really make a difference to their cost of living,” she said.

READ MORE: Change of direction for Coles

“Chicken is the number one dinner protein, so we’ve made a big investment in lowering the price and giving customers a whole RSPCA Approved chicken to feed their family for less than $4 per kilo. We know customers need bakery staples like rolls, wraps, croissants and muffins day in day out for breakfast and lunch so we’ve lowered the price on these items knowing it can make a big difference to their family budget.”

Coles is also introducing value packs and other pricing structures, such as :

  • big pack value products like tea, coffee, tomato sauce, olive oil and rice;
  • mix, match ‘n save with seasonally relevant bundle deals such as dips, yoghurts, snacks, bakery, prepacked vegetables and baby food where customers want variety; and
  • hundreds of new Own Brand products to help customers find value and try the latest flavours, meal solutions and food innovation.

Processing and packaging facility offers inclusive working environment

Based in north-east Victoria, Merriwa is a company that specialises in supported employment enterprises. They have hired more than 105 supported employees out of a team of 300. They work across five business divisions – contract packaging, contract processing and packaging, timber beams and flooring and as service staff in the Park Lane Nursery and Garden Centre, as well as child, youth and family services including family support services, assisted living centres and Youth Justice.

Merriwa’s dream is to be part of a future where people of all abilities reach their potential and feel respected, happy and confident.

The company prides itself on creating a supportive and inclusive environment for its teams across each business division. It sees the potential and ability in each of its team members and provides opportunities for personal and professional development, training and upskilling.

Woolworths originally approached Merriwa’s Contract Processing and Packaging (CPP) Division to trial a number of products at its new facility, based on a new concept of bringing the ‘farm gate to the store’.

READ MORE: Woolworths reaches major milestone in fight against food waste

Merriwa’s CPP facility was established in 2009, with equipment and material purchased to suit the needs of the Woolworths’ products and packaging. What started as a trial quickly evolved into a full-time operation. It now processes 15 product lines for Woolworths, including dried apricots (200g and 500g), sultanas (375g and 1kg), desiccated coconut (250g and 500g) and shredded coconut (250g). This range now also includes pitted dates and prunes, cashews, semolina, trail mixes, nibble mixes and nut mixes.

“We value Woolworths’ input into our operations and processes,” said Mark Currie, general manager of operations at Merriwa, Wangaratta. “Our relationship has continued to flourish through consistent communication, site visits and regular meetings in both Wangaratta (Merriwa’s CPP location) and Sydney.

“Merriwa’s relationship with Woolworths has allowed us to build a commercially viable business division, which operates in parallel with our dream to provide an environment which encourages people to reach their potential while delivering quality products and services to our customers and clients.”

Since beginning its partnership with Woolworths in 2009, Merriwa has increased its output from four to six million retail packs annually. It has also steadily grown the variety of product SKUs it offers. This progress has enabled it to upgrade its equipment and expand the number of food-grade packing rooms it has to meet the needs of its growing CPP division.

It currently provides employment for a team of 30 people (equivalent full time). It is now looking to remodel this team to support more employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

“Our partnership with Woolworths is highly valued by the team at Merriwa,” said Currie. “We feel like a part of the brand and culture, where our team takes pride in packing and processing product for Woolworths. This has helped us to grow as an organisation through strong relationships built on the sharing of knowledge, concepts and ideas. “We are now part of the production planning process and pride ourselves on operating at the highest of standards to produce high quality products. We operate under an extensive Quality Assurance program, developing comprehensive HACCP procedures, conducting internal Good Manufacturing Practice audits and Food Safety audits and have achieved an ‘AA’ Rating under the British Retail Consortium.

“The Merriwa team has built a culture of continuous improvement, celebrating the wins, and being progressive and inclusive, which is reflected in our values alignment with Woolworths,” said Currie.

Organic farm to expand with $250,000 grant

Green Camel has developed technology that helps overcome environmental risks often associated with growing organic produce. Through a range of biological processes, Green Camel produces organically certified leafy greens, tomatoes, cucumbers and barramundi in a symbiotic manner.

Green Camel’s proprietary system operates as a semi-closed biosphere – inside a state-of-the-art glasshouse – where waste from fish production is captured and transformed into nutrition for the horticulture. The system addresses the issues of waste from aquaculture, increases water utilisation, and decreases input costs and environmental burdens of horticultural production.

With the $250,000 grant from the Woolworths Organic Growth Fund, Green Camel will expand production capabilities and build a protected cropping area to grow organic raspberries and blueberries using their unique growing system.

Green Camel Founder and Chairman Adam Steel said: “In an environment where water is becoming an increasingly precious commodity, our farming model is thriving.

“We use our water reservoirs to grow fish, and every single drop used in aquaculture is then used to grow crops. It means every drop of water and every joule of sunshine is accountable.

“We are striving to deliver consistent organic produce within an industry that has traditionally been subject to substantial production variability.

“We are grateful to Woolies for their support and look forward to meeting the evolving demands of consumers seeking highly quality, organic produce at a good price.”

Woolworths has seen demand for organic produce grow at a rate of 20 percent year-on-year for the past five years. The $30 million Organic Growth Fund has been established to help Australian farmers boost production and consistency of supply to meet the growing consumer demand.

Woolworths Head of Produce Paul Turner said: “We’re seeing incredible growth in customer demand for organic fruit and vegetables, and the trend is only set to continue in the years ahead.

“We’re delighted to be working with local organic farmers like Green Camel to build the capacity that will allow us to meet the growing demand for organic produce.

“Green Camel has invested in a highly sustainable and innovative system to grow organic tomatoes and leafy greens, and it’s fantastic to see them expand into berry production. We’re excited to see what this Organic Growth Fund grant will unlock for Green Camel and our mutual customers.”

Woolworths reaches major milestone in fight against food waste

In a bid to tackle the $20 billion food waste problem in Australia and its commitment to reduce food waste from going to landfill, Woolworths has announced that 100 per cent of its supermarkets now have an active food waste diversion program in place.

From rescuing surplus fresh food and distributing it to hunger relief charity partners, donating stock feed to farmers or sending it for commercial organic composting, all Woolworths supermarkets nationwide now have at least one active food waste diversion partner in place.

With these programs in place,  Woolworths has recorded an average year-on-year reduction of 8 per cent in food waste sent to landfill over the past three years.

Woolworths Head of Sustainability, Adrian Cullen said; “Food is meant to be eaten, not thrown – which is why together with our customers, our farmers and our community partners, we’re working to keep good food out of landfill.

“This is not a new journey for us – we’ve been working hard at this for the last decade and we are excited to hit a milestone ahead of World Environment Day that 100% of our stores now with a food waste diversion program in place.

“We heavily invested in our team members to ensure that they have the education, training, resources and equipment to better identify and divert surplus food that can no longer be sold away from landfill and toward the most beneficial stream – be it food rescue for hunger relief, farmer donations for animal feed or commercial composting.

In the last year, Woolworths has diverted from landfill over 55,000 tonnes of food and enabled over 10 million meals to be delivered to Australians in need across the country.

Adrian Cullen said; “Working with our partners OzHarvest, Foodbank and Fareshare to feed Australian’s who would otherwise go hungry is our number one priority when it comes to diverting food from our stores.

“We then work with local farmers so that surplus food, which cannot go to hunger relief, is used as stock feed for animals or for on-farm composting. This helps us further reduce and re-purpose bakery and produce waste.”

Currently, over 750 farmers and community groups from around the country have joined the Woolworths Stock Feed for Farmers program and last year Australian farmers received more than 32,000 tonnes of surplus food from Woolworths that is no longer fit for human consumption.

Rochelle Penney, owner of Tasmania Zoo, has been part of the Woolworths Stock Feed for Farmers program since the Zoo opened its doors 15 years ago.

Rochelle said; “Our team collects several bins of unsold surplus fruit, vegetables and bakery products that are no longer suitable for sale, every day from our local Woolworths stores to supplement feed for our animals.

With over 100 different species of animals, all with variable nutritional needs, the support we receive from Woolies through the Stock Feed for Farmers program is invaluable.

“The program is enriching the lives of our animals and providing them the experience to taste a wide variety of produce.

“Importantly, the savings we make through the program enable us to continue our important conservation and education work which includes breeding programs and caring for a number of critically endangered native and exotic species.”

Woolworths deepens partnership with its Own Brand suppliers

Woolworths Supermarkets has one of the most recognised brands in Australia, with all own in-house and exclusive brands developed and managed by a business unit within the Woolworths Group, Woolworths Food Company, or FoodCo. It includes Australia’s and New Zealand’s leading supermarkets Woolworths and Countdown. They partner with dynamic suppliers to provide a range of own- and exclusive-branded products to meet the ongoing and changing needs of Woolworths and Countdown customers.

Their people have a passion for food and non-food, with integrated teams of buyers, developers, quality, welfare and sustainability specialists, customer insights and sensory specialists, chefs, nutritionists and marketers. They all work closely with suppliers to deliver the best mix of quality, taste, innovation, nutrition and value for over 30 million customers per week across Australia and New Zealand. By focussing on its customers and providing, FoodCo aims to maintain a sustainable and competitive offering for Woolworths, Countdown and its supply partners.

Clair Stevenson, FoodCo’s general manager for Longlife, and Morgan Oldridge, head of supplier development, have definite ideas about how they see the retail market in the coming months and years.

So, what does Woolworths see as the priorities for customers in the coming years and how suppliers can be a part of it?

“It’s a really interesting time for retail in Australia,” said Stevenson. “We’re excited to be working at the forefront of the macro trends shaping our customers’ needs and expectations into the future.

“It’s no secret that our customers care more about where their products come from, and that presents a huge opportunity for Own Brand to shine through for retailers. We tend to have a greater ability to understand and, importantly, tell the ‘paddock-to-plate’ story to our customers.

Whether that’s being able to tell customers about the farming families who supply our Farmer’s Own Dairy products to us, and the long-term relationships we have directly with those families, or the highest quality material and production standards of our Little Ones Baby Wipes.

“This need for information supports the trends of health, sustainability, responsible sourcing and animal welfare, all of which underpin what we do in FoodCo and how we approach the design and source phases of our product development process.

“At a broader level, we see our customers having less time to get things done. This includes eating healthily and maintaining a balanced diet. As a result, we’ve seen huge growth in our convenience sector both through our traditional channels and our new Metro format stores. Fresh is a particular focus for convenience but overall it’s about making healthy easy for customers.”

What does this mean for suppliers?
“At the outset, we should say Woolworths is very proudly a house of brands and always will be,” said Oldridge. “We believe in giving our customers choice. Our Own Brand products are always developed to meet specific, unmet customer needs that brands aren’t serving – whether it be on price, health, sustainability or provenance.”

As the company takes take a more strategic approach to the way it serves customers, it needs a more strategic approach to the way it sources products and invests in its supply chain. It’s in the process now of making significant changes to the way it deals with suppliers and the way it approaches supplier relationships.

“Our goal in FoodCo is to be suppliers’ most trusted and preferred partner, and the only way to achieve that is through deeper, more meaningful relationships with the right partners,” said Oldridge. “We have some amazing suppliers out there. By tapping into their capabilities and expertise, mixed with our customer mission and a longer term view to success, we believe we can unlock a huge amount of value and long term benefit for both customers and suppliers.”

With more requirements around product sourcing every day, such as ethical and responsible sourcing, animal welfare and sustainability, FoodCo is committed to ensuring it partners with people who excel in that field and can deliver long-term, sustainable competitive advantages to its customers.

“With all of this in mind, innovation is still the lifeblood that drives our business forward and excites and inspires our customers,” said Oldridge. “For suppliers who can bring true innovation to market, whether that be in product innovation, packaging, provenance, or technology, we’re keen to work with them to deliver that innovation in a sustainable way to our customers.”

And how do suppliers get in touch with the right person in FoodCo to talk about Own Brand opportunities?

“It’s never been easier to deal with FoodCo,” said Oldridge. “If a supplier wants to get in touch with FoodCo for the first time, simply visit www.supplywoolworths.com.au and complete our introductory capabilities survey so we can capture some basic information about your business. This centralised, secure database will then send that information to the buyer relevant to the category you’re best suited to, and they can be in touch if there’s an opportunity for us to do business together.

“The best thing about this centralised approach is ensuring we deal with our suppliers in a consistent and clear way. It also means the information only needs to be captured once, then updated each time something changes,

“If all else fails, send us an email at supplierrelations@woolworths.com.au and we can get in touch to help you along the journey.

“As we’ve said, Own Brand is a huge growth opportunity in Australia, and Woolies is on the forefront of that growth. Our purpose is to bring a little good to everyone, every day, and in FoodCo, we’re well positioned to work with suppliers to absolutely deliver that to customers.”

Woolworths wins cider duties dispute

Woolworths Limited has won a tariff dispute with the Australian government following a ruling by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) on its import of Savanna Dry alcoholic cider.

Woolworths had been required to pay duty on the cider after the Department of Home Affairs claimed the product, which features caramelised apple juice, did not meet the specific definitions of a cider under the relevant act. Meeting those conditions would have enabled the company to import the drink duty-free.

The outcome of the dispute turned on AAT deputy president Bernard J. McCabe’s analysis of the NaturBrown caramelised concentrate that is added to the fermented apple juice concentrate during the manufacturing process.

The  Department of Home Affairs said this additive has the effect of taking the product outside of the definition of “cider”.

McCabe said that, following his research of relevant literature – the Cook’s Illustrated “Caramelizing vs. Browning” and Science of Cooking “What is Caramelization” webpages – and evidence from expert food technologist Dr Simon Brooke-Taylor, he was satisfied the product conforms to the definition of cider under the relevant act and overturned the Department’s ruling.

“It has not been transformed into something else; it has just been made more delicious,” said McCabe.

“Nothing has been added; it is ultimately the same thing as the juice concentrate to which it is added.”

McCabe said that in making his decision he was not focusing on how NaturBrown should be classified if it were being imported, but was making “a commonsense determination about classification of the cider product” which required him to reach a view as to whether NaturBrown has been transformed into an additive that is something other than juice or the must of juice.

“I am satisfied from the evidence provided by Dr Brooke-Taylor that NaturBrown is ultimately ‘juice or the must of apples’ for present purpose,” he said.

The AAT decision will save Woolworths about $70 per litre of the cider that it imports into Australia.

Woolworths wholesale food agreement gives customers more choice

Woolworths Group has entered into a wholesale food supply agreement, which will offer customers a greater product range and competitive pricing.

The company announced this on November 9, along with an agreement to sell its 540 Woolworths-owned fuel convenience sites to EG Group for $1.725 billion.

The EG Group is a global competitor in fuel and convenience retailing, operating about 4,700 sites across Europe and North America and employing more than 28,000 people.

As part of the transaction, Woolworths Group and EG Group have entered into a 15-year commercial alliance covering fuel discount redemption, loyalty and wholesale product supply.

READ: Woolworths Group releases results for a challenging yet strong quarter

Key features of the alliance include a greater product range in the food sector, the continuation of Woolworths’ four cent per litre fuel discount and the continuation of Woolworths Rewards points on fuel and merchandise.

Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci said the transaction is a positive for the company’s customers, its team and its shareholders.

“The agreement will continue to strengthen the opportunities our customers have for greater value when shopping with us, with the benefits of the Woolworths Rewards program and the fuel discount offer set to continue.

“A long-term wholesale food supply arrangement will also ensure that EG Group can benefit from competitive product sourcing, including Woolworths’ own brands, to provide a world class convenience offer that will add further scale to Woolworths FoodCo,” said Banducci.

All existing Woolworths Petrol management and operations teams will transfer to EG Group following completion of the sale.

EG Group founder and co-CEO Mohsin Issa said for the past 17 years, the company had a vision of becoming a leading petrol station and convenience store operator around the world.

“The Woolworths’ assets present a fantastic opportunity to further grow our international footprint and deliver our best-in-class retail experience in a new geography.

“We are committed to investing in the site network, introducing leading retail brands, developing the alliance with Woolworths and working with the exceptional management team,” said Issa.

The transaction is subject to Foreign Investment Review Board approval. Completion is expected to occur in early 2019.

RSPCA celebrates industry leaders in food services sector that use cage free eggs

The RSPCA has launched a nationwide campaign that focuses on Australia’s largest hospitality and food retailers who have switched to cage-free eggs.

The celebratory ‘Cage Free and Proud’ campaign recognises  brands such as McDonald’s, Subway, Grill’d Healthy Burgers, Nando’s, Harris Farm Markets, Arnott’s and IKEA, as industry leaders who have acted on consumer concerns and stopped sourcing eggs from battery cages.

They’re joined by national retailers ALDI and Woolworths, which have made the commitment to phase-out cage eggs in store by 2025, and Coles, which will phase-out cage eggs in store by 2023.

RSPCA Australia humane food manager Hope Bertram said the food services industry is the next frontier in the effort to rid Australia of battery cages.

READ: What eggs can teach us about traceability 

“While the cage egg industry and legislation lags behind, Cage Free and Proud is about positively recognising those businesses that have made the right decision by their customers and are helping free smart, social, egg laying hens from cruel battery cages,” said Bertram.

“The past five years has seen a significant shift in consumer buying behaviour, with cage-free eggs now leading the market share in the supermarket,” she said.

“However, there are still more than 10 million hens whose entire lives are spent in a barren wire cage, with space around the size of an iPad.

“The majority of those cage eggs aren’t going into household fridges; they are going into food services – such as cafes, restaurants and catering companies- as well as food manufacturing – packet mixes, mayonnaise, biscuits, cakes, and so forth,” said Bertram.

“Australians have voted with their wallets when it comes to buying cage-free cartons at the supermarket, and they want cage-free when dining out and buying premadeand pre-packaged food too.

“The commitment from these major brands shows there is no excuse for the continued use of battery cages,” she said.

“The future of egg production is definitely cage free. Through this campaign and beyond, we expect to see many more brands make the switch to cage-free eggs so they can also be Cage Free and Proud,” said Bertram.

The Cage Free and Proud campaign will be supported by a nationwide advertising and public relations campaign that includes print, outdoor, radio, television and digital advertising as well as communications activities.

Woolworths Group and Nestle rank in top 15 for Reuters most diverse and inclusive organisations globally

Woolworths Group and Nestle, have taken out 14th and 15th, respectively, in Thomson Reuters D&I index ranks 2018 Top 100 list.

Management consulting firm Accenture has the top spot on the Thomson Reuters most diverse and inclusive organisations list, with the two food companies following close by.

The index ratings are informed by Thomson Reuters environmental, social, and governance data, designed to transparently and objectively measure the relative performance of more than 7,000 companies and provide clients with differentiated insight.

Each company is assigned a score across diversity, inclusion, people development and news controversy pillars.

READ: Nestlé will use Australian Recycling Label on all Australian-made products

Only companies with scores across all four pillars are assigned an overall score.

The top 100 ranked companies with the best overall scores are selected for the index. 

Thomson Reuters global head of environmental, social and governance, Elena Philipova, said the diversity and inclusion index, now in its third year, highlights the companies who are leading the way in imbedding these values into their company strategy.

“The industry is beginning to recognise the societal and business benefits of investing in diverse and inclusive companies and we are working closely with various investment firms who are looking to develop investable products based on our D&I index,” she said.

Outsell vice president and lead analyst, Will Jan, said recent studies revealed that diversity and inclusion correlated to value-creation and profitability. 

Woolworths Group chief people officer, Caryn Katsikogianis, said the company is are proud to be ranked high in the global diversity and inclusion index.

“It is welcome recognition of our efforts and progress in creating an inclusive culture across all of our businesses.

“As a group, we embrace the value diversity brings to our organisation and seek to provide an inclusive work environment that gives all our team members a sense of purpose and belonging.

“We want our customers to experience a welcoming and genuine team when they shop with us, and our diverse team is key to delivering this,” said Katsikogianis.

The Woolworths Group has been focused on a number of diversity and inclusion initiatives to create better experiences for its customers, team and communities.

These include refugee programs, LGBTI inclusion, gender pay parity and indigenous employment.

“This recognition is a testament to our 200,000 team members across Australia and New Zealand who make the Woolworths Group such a great place to work.

“As a customer-led business, we know it’s critical that our teams reflect the communities we serve. While we’ve made progress we know there is more we can do and we’ll continue working hard to build an even more diverse and inclusive workplace,” said Katsikogianis.

Woolworths and Coles dominate Australia’s $2.9 billion fresh bread market

Australia’s $2.9 billion fresh bread market is dominated by the two supermarket companies –Woolworths Group and Coles Group.

These companies represent a combined 51.9 per cent of the fresh bread market, according to the Roy Morgan results for the year to June 2018.

In total, supermarkets now comprise more than two-thirds of the entire fresh bread market with the remaining 31 per cent split between specialty bread shops including Bakers Delight, Brumby’s Bakery, and between delicatessens, milk bars, convenience store and other stores.

Over the past eight years there have been three stand-out performers in the fresh bread market.

READ: Survey shows ALDI is the most trusted brand in Australia

Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine said although Woolworths and Coles had the majority of the fresh bread market for more than five years, the success of Bakers Delight and Aldi in growing market share showed there was space for nimble competitors.

“The dominance of Australia’s two supermarket giants Woolworths and Coles is well known, with the two now comprising over half the Australian markets for fresh food including fresh meat, fresh fruit and vegetables and fresh bread,” she said.

“Although the two clearly dominate Australia’s fresh bread market, the growth this decade has been led by Coles Group which has significantly increased its market share by 6.2 per cent to 25.3 per cent, while Woolworths is little changed with 26.6 per cent of the fresh bread market,” said Levine.

German supermarket chain Aldi has grown its market share by 3.1 per cent to 7.1 per cent and specialty bread shop Bakers Delight now has a market share of 13.6 per cent, up by 0.5 per cent from June 2010.

“There are two competitors in particular outside the ‘Big 2’ who have grown their share of the fresh bread market and they come from very different origins. Aldi has made a huge impression on the Australian marketplace since opening its first store just over 15 years ago,” said Levine.

“Aldi’s success has been built upon not only discount prices but also a reputation for reliability, meeting the needs of consumers and being honest about what it has to offer. Aldi has consistently rated as one of Australia’s most trustworthy brands including retaining its spot as Australia’s most trusted brand in this week’s Roy Morgan Net Trust Score survey for July,” she said.

Despite facing a resurgent Coles in recent years Woolworths has retained its title as Australia’s largest retailer of fresh bread capturing a market-leading 26.6 per cent of the fresh bread market.

Other outlets for fresh bread including IGA and other supermarkets as well as Brumby’s Bakery and other smaller bread shops and delicatessens, milk bars, convenience stores have also experienced declines in their share of the fresh bread market of 1 – 2.4 per cent.

These results are from the Roy Morgan Single Source survey of more than 50,000 people per annum, including more than 12,000 grocery buyers.

Roy Morgan recently analysed the state of the overall grocery market in Australia, which is valued at more than $100 billion per annum. The latest results show Woolworths and Aldi have been the two best performers in the last year with both gaining significant market share. Further analysis, including the shares of the major supermarkets of the overall fresh food market.


Supermarkets match customer donations dollar-to-dollar to help farmers

Supermarkets in Australia continue to provide farmers with help during the drought, including Coles with its pledge to match customer donations dollar-for-dollar.

Coles’ promise to match customer donations will go for the entire month of August, in order to help farming communities doing it tough due to drought conditions.

The combined donations raised at checkouts and matched by Coles will be provided to the Country Women’s Association to support drought-affected families, to help cover household expenses such as school expenses and food, medical, electricity and water bills.

Coles managing director John Durkan said customers wanted to do more to support families affected by drought.

READ: Sheep and cattle slaughter increases to reduce stock numbers during drought

“For every donation no matter how big or small, our customers can be assured they will be making a difference to the rural communities experiencing hardship and distress,” said Durkan.

The matching donation  is in addition to $5 million already pledged in grants or interest-free loans from the Coles Nurture Fund for farmers who have a project which will help them to combat drought in the future.

Harris Farm Markets also announced it is matching donations dollar-to-dollar in August.

In a release, Tristan Harris, from Harris Farm Markets, said farmers deserved a fair grow and they needed people’s support in these trying times.

From the 2nd of August the supermarkets had donation boxes in all its shops collecting funds for rural aid, for four weeks.

Harris Farm Markets also had a cook-up at all stores in the first weekend of August, selling food for $5 with all proceeds helping provide hay and stock feed for drought-stricken farmers.

On the 11th of August, Woolworths donated all profits from sales in the fresh departments at its supermarkets to the Rural Aid Buy a Bale appeal.

It followed a $1.5 million donation from Woolworths, in July, aimed at supporting farmers impacted by the drought.



Woolworths Ltd packaging technologist wins top AIP award

At an AIP NSW meeting in Sydney earlier this month in July, Aleah Back was awarded the prestigious Harry Lovell award for academic excellence.

In 2014, Aleah Back, a qualified packaging technologist who is currently employed as Quality Specialist – Fresh – In-Store Bakery at Woolworths Limited, was awarded the APPMA Annual Scholarship to undertake the Diploma in Packaging Technology.

In 2016 she graduated achieving her Diploma in record time and excelled in her final exam results.

Subsequently, the AIP Education Committee has decided to formally acknowledge her outstanding achievements as a student of the Diploma in Packaging Technology by awarding Aleah the Harry Lovell Award.

The Harry Lovell Award recognises outstanding achievement in the examinations leading to the Diploma in Packaging Technology and has not been awarded since 2013.

Coles and Woolworths still lead fresh fruit and vegetable market

Analysis of long-term market trends by analysts at Roy Morgan shows that in 2018 Australia’s two largest supermarkets captured more than 51 per cent of Australia’s $18 billion fresh fruit and vegetable market between them.

According to market analysts, Roy Morgan, the Woolworths Group with a 27.4 per cent share, up 1.3 per cent points since 2017, and Coles Group with a 23.9 per cent share, down 0.7 per cent points, had a combined share of the fresh fruit and vegetable market larger than all other retail outlets including rival supermarkets Aldi and IGA, fruit shops, markets, other supermarkets and other non-supermarkets combined.

Woolworths enjoyed stronger growth in the fresh fruit and vegetable market over the past year than rival Coles, who despite increasing their number of buyers in an average seven day period had a decrease in the share of market.

Third largest supermarket Aldi now has a 10.1 per cent share of the fresh fruit and vegetable market, up 0.6 per cent in a year – although all three have taken substantial market share from traditional fruit shops. Aldi is fast approaching as the third major supermarket group set to overtake fruit shops, which currently account for 15.8 per cent of the market.

Majority of fresh meat now bought at Coles & Woolworths

Analysis of long-term market trends shows that for the first time in 2017 Australia’s two largest supermarkets captured more than 50% of Australia’s $13 billion+ fresh meat market between them.

Market leader Woolworths Group with a 26.5% share, up 1.1% points since 2016, and Coles Group with a 24.3% share, up 2% points, had a combined share of the fresh meat market larger than all other retail outlets including rival supermarkets Aldi and IGA, butchers, markets, other supermarkets and other non-supermarkets combined.

Both Australian supermarket giants have enjoyed stronger growth in the fresh meat market over the past year than rival Aldi which now has a 9.6% share of the fresh meat market, up 0.9% in a year – although all three have clearly taken substantial market share from traditional butchers.

Ten years ago butchers and markets had nearly a third (32%) of Australia’s fresh meat market. Today this is just under a quarter (24%) of the fresh meat market is now held by butchers and markets.

In the last 12 months fresh meat market share for butchers and markets dropped 3% points. This is steepest drop of any time period in the last decade.

These results are from the Roy Morgan Single Source survey of over 50,000 people per annum, including over 12,000 grocery buyers.

Michele Levine, CEO, Roy Morgan, says Australia’s increasingly competitive fresh meat market is squeezing the market share of the traditional Australian butcher:

“Australia’s ‘Big Two’ supermarket chains Woolworths and Coles now capture over 60% of Australia’s $100b+ grocery market. In recent years the Big Two have been moving to consolidate their market shares in various fresh food markets including fresh fruit & veg, fresh meat, fresh bread, fresh deli and fresh seafood,” she said

“In just the past year Coles and Woolworths achieved a milestone, capturing a majority of the fresh meat market for the first time and now hold 50.8% of Australia’s fresh meat market between them. Woolworths’ fresh meat market share of Woolworths has increased 1.1% points over the past year to 26.5% while Coles has continued a decade long-trend by increasing its market share by 2% to 24.3%.

Australian fresh meat market 2016 v. 2017


Source: Roy Morgan Single Source Australia, January 2016 – December 2016, n=8,301, January 2017 – December 2017, n=8,691. Base: Last 7 day fresh meat purchasers aged 14+ weighted to Australian households.

Woolworths first-half profit up 38pc

Woolworths’ first-half profit has risen by 38 per cent to $969m and the supermarket giant has also recorded a 3.8 per cent increase in sales.

The company also announced a dividend per share of 43c, up 26.5 per cent.

“At the end of FY17, we said that we were moving from turnaround to transformation. In the current half we have seen some early signs of this transformation with good progress on a number of strategic initiatives and pleasing sales growth from all of our businesses. We remain committed to our focus on building a customer and store-led culture and team with a highlight in the half being the continued improvement in customer, team and supplier advocacy scores across the Woolworths Group,” said Brad Banducci, Woolworths Group CEO.

“In Australian Food, despite beginning to cycle some more challenging prior year numbers, sales increased by 5.1% with a strong second quarter (comparables sales: +5.0%). EBIT increased by 11.1% due to strong sales and continued improvement in stock loss despite investment in key strategic initiatives such as digital, incremental team training and IT as well as higher depreciation costs.”