Ag urged to embrace 'brand Australia'

06 Aug, 2014 02:00 AM
Brand consultant Craig Davis.
The new globalised economy has moved on, leaving Australia behind the eight ball
Brand consultant Craig Davis.

ENTREPRENEUR and branding expert Craig Davis thinks Australian agriculture has “spoilt supermodel syndrome”.

The 'land down under' trades off its abundant natural beauty and features, believing the rest of the world is lining up simply to be associated with it.

But while that has taken us so far, Mr Davis said the new globalised economy has moved on, leaving Australia behind the eight ball in terms of agriculture exports.

His speech confronted Ausveg National Convention delegates in Cairns where he spoke on “brand Australia”.

He said 100 years ago 14 per cent of the Australian population was directly involved with agriculture. That figure is now around 0.6pc.

“No one knows a farmer anymore and Australian agriculture has lost its natural voice,” he said.

“That voice has been broken into thin reeds through politics, factionalism, bureaucracy and a general lack of engagement.

“Horticulture, it must be said, has a general reputation for being one of the worst offenders in this regard.”

We can’t be Asia’s food bowl but we can become Asia’s preferred premium food partner

Mr Davis has worked with some of the biggest brands in the world including Sony, Coca-Cola, Kraft, Toyota, Shell and Nokia.

He founded, the world’s first brand-centric social media platform.

He said unity is strength when it comes to promoting the positives of Australian produce, but even here the agriculture industries struggle to gain traction.

“There are 93 separate agribusiness bodies in this country. In Denmark there is one,” he said.

In being asked to speak at the Ausveg event, Mr Davis said he thought it was curious that the organisation said it represented vegetable and potato growers, in that potatoes are vegetables anyway.

“Already in the DNA of the organisation there is separation,” he said.

“Eighty-eight per cent of farmers in Australia say they want to have a really strong, national voice, but only thiry-three per cent can be bothered to join the NFF.

“I just don’t understand the lack of engagement.

“You’re losing the ability to address markets effectively, tell a larger Australian story and build real relationships with consumers here and overseas.”

He encouraged agricultural bodies to unite in order to present a uniform voice.

“Australian horticulture should lead this charge because you have the most to gain,” he said.

Connecting with consumers was one of the major tools for improving branding according to Mr Davis.

That means telling the farming story behind the crops grown.

“Knowing that someone, people, human beings care about what they produce, is very compelling for consumers,” Mr Davis said.

“Here’s a newsflash - you guys are artisans to. You need to start telling your story about love and care and craft.

“One quarter of Australians believe that it’s important for luxury or premium brands to be imported from overseas. Now that’s just nuts, that’s crazy.

“We produce millions of premium products every day - they’re called vegetables. But no one is thinking that way. Well, not enough.

“We need to think better rather than bigger.”

He also echoed sentiments from other speakers throughout the Convention speaking against the perception of Asia being an export cure-all.

“We can’t be Asia’s food bowl but we can become Asia’s preferred premium food partner. Think more like the up-market deli than the supermarket,” he said.

It should be more about extracting the most value through product development, brand building and targeting the most valuable consumers.

“While we may talk about being clean, green and safe, I think that’s just scratching the surface. We need to dig much deeper and get to the heart of Australian agriculture.

“This sector needs to be crystal clear on what we do, how we do it and why, the purpose, there needs to be a purpose.”


Ashley Walmsley

is the editor of Good Fruit and Vegetables.
Date: Newest first | Oldest first


Paul Cox
6/08/2014 5:45:24 AM

So much of what Craig Davis says is on the mark. While some peak bodies do a great job of engagement with the wider community too many are hamstrung by governing models which belong in the last century. If you don't engage, if you don't rebut the falsehoods, groups which at their heart are anti farming gain traction and use the available media coverage for their agenda. Too often the heavy lifting on issues such as the PETA campaigns are left to passionate individuals rather than industry having basically pre prepared responses ready to go. It is not rocket science.
6/08/2014 6:43:13 AM

I believe in places such as China there is a preference/trust for Australian produce. I'm wondering if getting shelf space is the issue?, how about starting a chain over there?, call it "Aussie Made" or something, only list our produce. That way we bypass any corruption for shelf space and can build Brand Identity in one step. Try one supermarket/deli, if it takes off franchise etc.
6/08/2014 6:48:11 AM

Great story - but this is the 3rd time youve printed it this year
Philip Downie
6/08/2014 7:09:20 AM

All those companies make and sell to the consumer. They all have control of their product until it is finished, farmers do not. It is not farmers who are selling to the world it is those that are processing their produce that are selling to the world. It may come from Australia but it is sold by a multi national company. How do you brand that? One stuff up and your brand is trashed so control is everything in branding.
6/08/2014 8:46:06 AM

Is 'Brand Australia' the same as 'Team Australia'- a meaningless euphemism? Branding is so much more than a slogan created by some advertising guru. Branding is about identify; the essence of who we are and what we stand for as Australian producers. Look no further than to the NZ dairy industry to see what positive Brand identity is all about. Their industry has real standing in the NZ community. It is an industry that attracts the best people and delivers creative and innovative solutions - A2 milk is a case in point.
Sam Trethewey
6/08/2014 11:44:18 AM

Lets hope his speech provides the SHOCK Ausveg needs to lead collaboration and unity amongst it's members and then join the NFF!
6/09/2014 7:22:30 AM

The NFF??? ha ha ha ha ha ha ha etc etc Does anyone know what/who the NFF represents?


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