Marketing, promotion shakeup for AWI?

30 Oct, 2003 07:00 PM
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STRONG support for wool promotion and marketing might lead to Australian Wool Innovation having to seek changes to its statutory obligations.

Last week's Rural Press Marketing Services survey exclusively revealed that 83pc of the 659 growers surveyed nationally backed investment in these areas.

AWI WA director Kevin Bell said the high level of support didn't surprise him because there had always been a feeling that more effort needed to be spent in marketing and promotion.

"In the 2000 WoolPoll when the AWI was set up, as distinct from the Woolmark Company, growers voted for the 2pc rate that was only for research and development, not promotion," Dr Bell said.

"So it would reflect a change in the last three years if they were wanting that."

The survey also revealed 60pc of growers only wanted 25pc of the levy spent in that area, an amount Dr Bell believed was ineffective, if that was the direction they wanted to pursue.

"Promotion is a very expensive business on the world market and the sort of money you would have to spend ... would be the entire budget and more," he said.

"You are operating in a global market."

Dr Bell said if growers wanted AWI to pursue marketing and promotion, it would require legislative amendments to be made.

"We just want to hear what growers want," he said.

"If they want that then as a board we would certainly be happy to look at it and reflect that wish.

"But at the moment the direction we have is a statutory, legal one and that is all on research and development."

WAFarmers wool section president Dale Park said he was surprised at the level of support for marketing and promotion, but not the need for it.

"I'm not surprised that people are talking that way because there have been calls within our council to go back and have a look at it," he said.

He said in the 2000 Woolpoll, not many growers were aware that the 2pc option meant that marketing and promotion would not be funded.

"But even if they had I don't think the result would have been any different," Mr Park said.

"The government said the growers haven't voted for promotion because they voted 2pc and so put it into the statute that AWI would not able to fund marketing or promotion."

Meanwhile, Dr Bell encouraged all woolgrowers to have their say in the poll, with voting closing next Friday.

"AWI is their organisation so it's very important they have a say now," he said.

"We, as directors, are aiming to do what growers want, we are not trying to push anything.

"We are desparately trying to find out what growers want to do so we can do it."

Mr Park said the closeness of support in WA for the 1pc and 2pc levy rates, 32pc and 27pc respectively, probably reflected the different stances taken by WAFarmers and the PGA.

"I don't know if it reflects too much more than that," he said.

"It would be disappointing to think that we didn't get 2pc up."

Pastoralists and Graziers western woolgrowers chairman Digby Stretch said he didn't hold much store in opinion polls, saying his main focus was on encouraging growers to have their say in the WoolPoll.

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