Growers 'squeezed' for Woolies' promo

06 Jun, 2014 08:16 AM
Australia’s farmers cannot afford to fund Woolworths’ marketing campaigns

UPDATED 3.45pm: PEAK horticulture group Ausveg and Independent Senator for SA Nick Xenophon are calling on the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to investigate a move by Woolworths to charge growers a levy to fund its campaign involving celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.

Ausveg says Woolworths is demanding individual growers around Australia fund the campaign through a new 40 cents per crate charge on top of the 2.5 to 5 per cent fee growers are already required to pay Woolworths to market and promote their produce.

At a joint press conference in Melbourne today with Senator Xenophon, Ausveg acting chief executive William Churchill said growers were being given no undertaking from Woolworths on what return they would see from the additional funds they are being asked to provide to fund the promotion.

However, Woolworths later released a statement explaining the contribution was "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."

The statement also said Woolworths was keen to "get kids excited" about eating more fresh fruit and vegetables with the Jamie Oliver campaign.

Mr Churchill maintained Ausveg was "outraged at the way that the company is behaving”.

He said growers were concerned if they didn’t comply with the 40c levy to fund the campaign, their business with Woolworths would be blacklisted and they would receive fewer orders for produce, or be struck out altogether.

“It’s astounding for a company that posted a $1.32 billion net profit in February and employs 190,000 staff to be going back to already squeezed farmers and asking them to cough up more money to pay for promotions,” Mr Churchill said.

“Australia’s farmers cannot afford to fund Woolworths’ marketing campaigns and expectations that growers should contribute more are totally unreasonable. The ACCC must immediately investigate."

Senator Xenophon reinforced Mr Churchill’s comments, saying while Jamie Oliver had been a great ambassador for good food, he was being used to impose a bad deal on growers.

“This just strengthens the case for my Bill that gives courts the power to break up a company that abuses market power,” Senator Xenophon said.

“Margins are already razor thin for many of Australia’s growers and this will make life even more marginal for a lot of them.

“Jamie Oliver needs to know that, by Woolworths lining his pockets, a lot of Aussie farmers are going to be out of pocket.

“This is a bizarre version of Oliver Twist. In Woolworth’s ‘Oliver’s twist’ it’s the corporate giant demanding ‘please sir, more’ from struggling farmers.

“I’ll be writing to Jamie Oliver, inviting him to meet with individual farmers and industry groups who are already doing it tough.”

Date: Newest first | Oldest first


6/06/2014 9:38:58 AM

What a disgrace. Not to mention why is Woolworths using a British chef - oh I forgot, because we do not have any chefs here in Australia. So much for Oliver championing the growers, as long as Australian growers and producers pay for his bloated fees. Disgusting.
6/06/2014 11:06:10 AM

Australia's agricultural retailers do exactly the same to their suppliers. Squeeze squeeze squeeze. Where's the enquiry?!
6/06/2014 11:23:49 AM

ACCC only protects the corporates, cheap food for the masses so they have more money to put into real estate markets and share markets, wont the govts and banks have egg on their face when this blows up?
6/06/2014 2:21:03 PM

Disagree with Ausveg comments, Woolworths have done more for the Australian vegetable industry than Ausveg and Xenophon combined. This campaign will do more for the industry then anything Xenophon has suggested. Best thing for political advocates and politicians is to stay away.
7/06/2014 9:30:38 AM

Spotted Jamie lines at Woolworths, overpriced for what they are, yet people so willingly depart with the readies when a 'name' is attached.
7/06/2014 8:13:45 PM

They really have a hide. Why don,t they fund their own promotion like any other retailer? Their terms of payment are about the longest in the business. Tough luck if you need the money for your inputs. But you wouldn't get far past the checkout without paying, then they have your money in the bank earning interest.
Beef man
8/06/2014 9:04:51 AM

Accc look at supermarkets with rose coloured glasses how rude that woollies would do such a thing
9/06/2014 5:55:53 PM

The Woolies Coles oligopoly is a problem. However, under the laws of OZ, they are not clearly committing any crime. The real crime is that our laws are assisting them to destroy competition in our market. If it was wrong for grower groups to gather market power via an amalgamation of suppliers, why is it not wrong for Coles and Woolies to do the same thing? The fact that they use our capitalist system is not an excuse. The Govt needs to break up their dominant position, and make way for real competition, between retailers, or preside over the eventual death of our local production industry.
10/06/2014 2:23:29 PM

well put, cmt.
Bushie Bill
11/06/2014 10:54:09 AM

It is not morally or legally wrong, cmt, because they are not colluding with each other or any one else. Got it now?
1 | 2  |  next >


Screen name *
Email address *
Remember me?
Comment *


light grey arrow
I'm one of the people who want marijuana to be legalized, some city have been approved it but
light grey arrow
#blueysmegacarshowandcruise2019 10 years on Daniels Ute will be apart of another massive cause.
light grey arrow
Australia's live animal trade is nothing but a blood stained industry that suits those who