Category Archives: food labels

What You Can Do as a Concerned Australian!

We urge concerned Australians to talk to those proposing to represent us in the next Government. Ask them:

  1. what priority they give Australia’s long term interest when we have an open door policy to imports which do not meet our standards;
  2.  why do we have a “for sale” sign on our wealth creating assets so foreign countries and companies can buy our land and our businesses;
  3. why our government fund foreign purchases – over $600m to China to lease the Ord Stage Two;
  4. why they allow foreign interests to pay less company tax from the profits they declare (10% withholding tax), after consultancy fees and interest repayment are sent off shore;
  5. why they do not apply the laws we have in place to ensure products do not come here or are removed from sale that do not meet our standards;
  6. why government procurement tends to favour foreign owned business operating here who then do not necessarily source from our businesses and often replace inferior quality;
  7. why products are dumped here and nothing is done;
  8. when will they apply labelling laws which show were products are grown and sourced; where they are made and who really owned the;
  9. why they have not called for an amendment under the WTO to give protection to our key industries and our knowledge base;
  10. why they do not acknowledge the implications of decades of policies based on a false principle that everyone is playing by the same rules. Only Australia does this to our own. All the countries we trade with ignore our intellectual property, do not allow domination of key sectors in the supply chain to dictate prices and profits to their suppliers and import goods to replace their own. Australia cannot take advantage of the Asian century if we do not own our land and our manufacturing.
  11. Sign the AUSBUY petition

We are losing over 200 years knowledge of our land and our capacity for innovation as countries and global companies circle to buy our wealth creating assets. That is why AUSBUY goes to the people. Every $ you spend on Australian owned and made goods and services has a multiplier effect within our economy. $50 a week for every household becomes $50B multiplied in our economy. Sign 

When Are We Going to Support Our Own? Farmers Under Pressure!

In Australian vernacular, other countries are “having a lend of us” while we continue to have an open door policy to imports. The latest story comes from a Kiwi Fruit farmer in Queensland who has been growing his fruit for 35 years, has a major financial investment in his systems and crop, and is now competing in the markets against fresh product from New Zealand, USA, France and Italy. These are coming in the same growing season as our own.

The Australian farmer is receiving less per box than it costs him to grow and the imported products are selling at $65 a box, five times his production costs here. In addition the imported fruit is only 60g, too small to be acceptable from an Australian farmer. These imports are being sent half way around the world and taking shelf space in our stores instead of our own produce. In addition, despite our labelling laws on fresh produce they are not necessarily showing country of origin on the produce at point of sale. Our gatekeepers are not keeping the gate.

How can this continue to happen and what are the consequences on our long term capacity to feed ourselves if we pretend our people are playing to the same rules as other countries, and our legislators and their advisers do nothing about it? We have been complicit in doing this to our own people.

Australian products exported into the EU have high tariffs of around 18%. It appears there are few barriers to Italy and France exporting here. For countries in trouble, dumping is rife. New Zealand managed to negotiate a deal when the EU was set up so that its products do not have the same level of tariffs as Australian produce and products. The USA subsidizes its farmers and has done so for decades, even before we signed a Free Trade Agreement in 2005 allowing easier access to our market than the USA allowed to theirs with tariffs on Australian imports for up to 20 years.

The kiwi fruit were probably dispatched when our dollar was high, meaning they were even cheaper than imports are now. In the last few weeks the A$ has lost over 10% of its value. If we do not have our own growers and processes sourcing and making here, imports will add to the inflationary pressures on the cost of living for basics food commodities. That will add dramatically to our national debt. Some will say it will benefit our exports. But what will be have to export that we still own?

Government policy for decades has been based on the false assumption that we export most of our food. This was the rationale for the ACCC and FIRB to allow the control of every major food commodity except rice to be controlled beyond the farm gate by foreign owned interests. When the research was last done in 1998 it found we only export more than 50% of our beef, grain and fibre, and consume most of our produce here. Foreign control of our exports means Australia does not get the full benefit of our exports as decisions and profits go off shore. Today we import more fresh produce than we export, from countries that do not meet the same standards and growing conditions of our farmers. Australian consumers are being duped and our Australian owned processors under costs pressures with high interest rates, carbon tax, rising energy and water costs etc.

The level of inertia and inaction by our decisions makers is costing our farmers and businesses dearly. When complaints are put to the ACCC or Productivity Commission, local companies and growers have to “prove” there is a problem and months and years go by as the market rapidly changes. New Zealand sought and gained an Amendment under the WTO to “protect” in 1995 its key industries. Australia has done nothing. Why not?

For many of our farmers and businesses talk has been too little too late as they lose shelf space and distribution in the supply chain. When an economy is out of balance it is our wealth creators, our farmers and our businesses that have no safety net. They are told to be productive and competitive with their hands tied behind their backs.

That is why informed consumers can make a difference. What price so we put on our future?

Interviews can be arranged with Lynne Wilkinson, CEO of AUSBUY on 0294375455 or 0418314923.

Who is Looking After Our Interests?

The SPC story of declining demand highlights the plight of our farmers and manufacturers yet again. We can only hope that a public company can get the attention of the Ministers for Agriculture and Trade, because they have certainly not been listening for decades. The Australian Companies Institute Limited (AUSBUY) has warned of the consequences of poor policies and loss of control of our assets for nearly 22 years. Reduced demand for farm goods, value added by manufacturers here needs to be addressed because the food industry is the last major manufacturing sector we have which represents a broad cross section of small, medium and large business throughout our regions.

The story is more complicated than at first appears. We have been complicit in the deteriorating situation for over two decades. Australia’s largess without a long term strategic plan has exacerbated our food security. Open door policies signed under the WTO and OECD Agreements, Free Trade Agreements that have rarely been to our advantage; reduced funding over the years for gatekeepers such as Bio Security Australia and AQIS; little control over the standards of imports relative to the standards required of our farmers and manufacturers; poor labelling laws showing country of origin; the high dollar; ACCC’s approval of control of every major food commodity except rice beyond the farm gate by foreign owned companies making our farmers price takers not price makers; loss of major iconic brands which are Australian owned; the growth of private label further eroding profits for local manufacturers;  and the ACCC’s recent  determination that there will be no code of conduct for retailers, all add to our food industry woes.

While SPC cites the high dollar and competition from own brand, private labels in supermarkets, the issue is a little more complicated. SPC’s lower demand for Australian fruit was exacerbated in recent years when they dismantled a factory in Shepparton and set it up in Spain, because Australian exports have an 18% tariff into the EU. This made sense for SPC and the Spanish farmers and factory workers there, but not for Australia. Coca Coal Amatil appreciated the value of the SPC brand. Its prestige both here and overseas built up over generations by the farmers’ cooperative.

What is happening to all the Australian owned manufacturers who do not have the might of Coca Cola Amatil? We should be supporting our owned brands. We can only hope that this will be wake up call. Consumers are increasingly concerned about where our food comes from and where our jobs are generated. That concern should be reflected by our policy makers. We need to listen to our owned while we still can. Sign the AUSBUY petition to ask for a hold on foreign sales until we have a national interest test.

Lynne Wilkinson

CEO – Australian Company Institute Limited

 

 

In Reference to:

SPC production cut to slice 50 percent of fruit growers crop

  • April 24, 2013
  • Sophie Langley

Australian industry groups are offering support to 170 Goulburn Valley fruitgrowers after food processing company SPC Ardmona said it would not be taking their produce from 1 May 2013.

The Company, which is a subsidiary of Coca Cola Amatil (CCA), said the high Australian dollar and competition from cheaper imported products have left it no choice. It forecast a reduction of up to 50 per cent in intake for some fruit categories for the 2014 season.

Australian Food News reported in February 2013 that SPC Ardmona’s troubles had led to a 22 per cent drop in earnings for its parent company CCA.

SPC Ardmona said it is currently half way through what it termed a three-year “business transformation strategy”, which aims to address issues of efficiency and waste reduction throughout the entire business. The Company said it plans to work with key retailers, who it believes do want to support Australian fruit growers.

“We are not competing on a level playing field against the overseas sourced private label products,” said Peter Kelly, Managing Director SPC Ardmona. “We are competing against products from countries that have considerably lower labour and production costs and arguably lower quality standards than we have in Australia,” he said.

“A more than 50 per cent appreciation in the Australian dollar in the past four years has made cheap imported food even cheaper and has also severely impacted on our export markets,” Mr Kelly said.

SPC Ardmona said market share of imported private label canned fruit had grown to 58 per cent, while SPC Ardmona canned fruit share had declined to 33 per cent and the Company’s export market volumes had declined by 90 per cent in the past five years.

According to data from market research organisation Nielsen, published in ‘Retail World Grocery Guide 2012’, SPC Ardmona had 50.2 per cent value share and 40.8 per cent volume share of the shelf-stable fruit category in 2012. The grocery guide showed that in 2012, private label products had 29.1 per cent value share in the category, and 39.8 per cent volume share.

The Company said it would be seeking temporary tariff protection relief from the Australian Government to assist the fruit processing industry during the period of the strong Australian dollar, and more effectively market its brands to consumers with “stronger Australian grown and Australian made messages”.

Speaking to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s (ABC) AM radio program, John Wilson, spokesperson for industry body Fruit Growers’ Victoria, agreed that the high Australian dollar was a big challenge for the sector.

“A combination of the collapse of global markets in North America and Europe and an oversupply of canned fruit; at the same time our Australian dollar purchasing power increased,” Mr Wilson told the ABC program. “And unfortunately the cannery can’t meet that competition on a short-term turnaround,” he said.

Mr Wilson said the fruit growing sector needed a “restructure program, a restructure package that has a transition and an exit component in it for the health of fruit growing right across the district”.

Labelling Laws – Still waiting for action while consumers confused and local manufacturers and growers are undermined

When the Senate Enquiry into “Truth in Labelling” was undertaken in October 2009 there was some hope that Australians would finally see where their products come from even though the label says “Made in Australia”, even though at the time most industry groups rejected the concept. While the Senate has rejected “Made in Australia” the key issue then and now in AUSBUY’s submission was the need for Country of Origin. This has now been recognised. Now the work really begins. Let’s hope our industries and our farmers can hold on long enough.

Labels are complicated. They are also costly to replace for manufacturers already under cost pressure. While discussions have been consumer focused, the suppliers also need to be considered, especially those locally owned businesses whose ethic is to source from Australian farmers and suppliers whenever possible. Of course Australia does not produce every ingredient, but then not all ingredients are cited on a tin of pears or more complicated sauces etc.  “Made in Australia” infers products are sourced here. Local and imported confuse the issue further.

Change cannot be avoided as the source of our foods are increasingly complicated by our Free Trade Agreements, high dollar and virtual open door policy to imports. To their credit Coles and Woolworths manage “Country of origin” reasonably well on their private label brands. They may be replacing locally made and grown foods because our businesses cannot compete on price against cheap imports, but at least consumers have a choice to avoid imported foods, even if they are made here because the label tells them the source.

Some consumers in sheer frustration use bar codes when they shop. The problem is the 93 barcode for Australia means the company has a registered office here and may be foreign owned and imported.

In the meantime AUSBUY has attended many meetings and discussions where the various sides had their say (or did not). Many meetings were chaired with a pre-determined outcome, so discussion appeared to be superfluous. Or the issues were so complex that Senators where clearly bamboozled having had no industry experience of the complexities. No need for this as the experts were in the room, time was limited and an outcome expected.

As AUSBUY has highlighted in the past, if the intent is misplaced then the action is misplaced, and without a clear objective it is easy to sustain inertia when confusion reigns. Few see the bigger picture or acknowledge the consequences. You guessed it, after more than four years the announcement this week on “made in Australia” is no action as the Senate rejected. The changes do not go far enough. We can only hope it does not take another four years to get an outcome that benefits Australia.

The food sector is the largest manufacturing sector we have left where there is a spread of businesses across our communities and regions sourcing from local farmers. Many small businesses drive the innovation in the food sector. These are the businesses that “value-add’ our commodities – but we have stopped talking about “value adding” and control of the supply chain and key industries.

In the past four years we have seen multinationals take over more local brands, farms bought because on farm income has been in decline for decades, commodity industries such as dairy, fruit and vegetable growers under threat, or factories close here and move off shore to sell back to us. No one has counted the cost to our manufacturers and growers as imported foods replace local produce and still carry the “Made in Australia” label as long as it meets the 51% test of substantial transformation (including packaging costs). For a country that prides itself on our agriculture we have no major global brands since Fosters was sold.

The issue is from “where”. We have signed Free Trade Agreements with countries that do not reciprocate opportunities as our exports incur tariffs (USA, EU), open our doors to countries that do not meet our standards, or imports that bring the threat of disease when we have under-resourced our gatekeepers AQIS and Bio-Security Australia. Diseases are being introduced to our once clean, green growing environment via the back door and the front door.

Ask our orange growers. We cannot take foods across state borders but import foods that do not meet our standards, yet oranges from overseas compete in the same growing season at the same price as our local produce. These activities are hidden in processed foods. At least we have “Country of Origin” on fresh produce, championed by AUSBUY over a decade ago. But again this is not policed at local and state levels, except where big supermarkets err.

Then there is the seasonality of food. If manufacturers want to sustain their production line the excuse is to import out of season. Whatever we can do to support our local manufacturers and growers and give priority to their sustainability the better. Labelling laws are important, but only part of the problems facing our essential industries. AUSBUY’s focus is on informed consumers and working with manufacturers and growers,  but then we only represent Australian owned businesses so our message is not compromised.

Australian Companies Institute Limited (AUSBUY) is a not for profit organisation representing Australian owned businesses exclusively since 1991. Interviews can be arranged.  Lynne Wilkinson 02 9437 5455 0418 3149 23

The Wisdom of Fairy Tales

This is the House that Jack Built. This is a story of unintended consequences. The cat ate the rat the rat ate the malt that was used to make the bricks of the house. In this story it is the farmer whose actions save the house, so Jack gets married and lives happily ever after”.

Even nursery rhymes identify farmers as wise. What relevance does this have to Australia? We are living the unintended consequences because control has been taken away. We get so caught up in complicated thinking, listening to others’ answers about what is right for us. The answers should be obvious – acting on them less so.

The issue is what is the “intent” of those who answer our questions?

“A fraudulent intent, however carefully concealed at the outset, will generally, in the end, betray itself”. Titus Livius 

Why You Should Donate to Australia’s Food Security NOW!

Any aware Australian will know that our farmers are under great pressure with declining on farm incomes and rising debt. Any wonder some of them are selling their farms to pay off their debt. Any wonder foreign countries are grabbing our land.

Research has not been done since 1998 showing the decline in income for our farmers. Governments do not want to know the consequences of their policies. AUSBUY together with other industry groups is asking for donations to our Food Security Research so that policy makers can see the facts they do not want to know.

Australia cannot benefit from demand for our products if we do not own the land and the distribution channels.

We are in this situation was based on a false assumption that we exported most of our food, when we only export more than 50% of our beef, wheat and fibre. Now we import more fresh food than we export in direct competition to our own and many of our exports are foreign owned.  In addition our arable land is under great pressure from non farm industries and urban expansion.

The plight of our dairy farmers highlights that even if you are among the most productive, innovative and efficient in the world, market forces based on price do not help especially as competitors and the supply chain dictate the farm gate price. They are expected to compete with countries that long ago recognised their need for food security and have policies which support their own, and with a retail market that says price is the reason people buy. At what cost to our future and the product quality and integrity of our Australian owned and grown brands.

In Australia on farm income gets around 4% subsidy in the countries buying our assets it is closer to 41% that is more than ten times more than our farmers. This is an issue our policy makers should be accountable for in the coming elections. Please donate today and give our farmers some hope. Their hope is out hope.

Frozen Food From India

Following is a note sent to the local Federal representative. This was sent to us by a Friend of AUSBUY in response to frozen vegetables being sold in WA from India and packaging which “inferred” it was Australian. These are the kinds of products which need to pass scrutiny by Australian authorities before they can be sold here in competition with our own farmers. Such products would not be allowed to be sold in countries such as the USA as their Federal Government maintains tight controls over what enters the country in competition to its farmers

It has come to my attention that a company using the name “Midwest Frozen Foods” has slipped under the radar and is selling frozen foods that although they are made in India has a map of WA and a kangaroo on their packaging. This I believe is misleading advertising and may fool a lot of people into buying what they think comes from WA.

Also I have come across tin products from New Zealand that actually have a kangaroo or a map of Australia on them and although the product labelling declares them to be Product of New Zealand the actual product comes from China.

I think it is time the Government took a stand on misleading labelling and made it law that country of origin be clearly printed on the front of all food packaging.

We need to make sure Australia has a viable food resource within its borders and bring in stricter laws regarding imported food.

A Beautiful Australian Poem

When the shearing sheds are silent and the stock camps fallen quiet

When the gidgee coals no longer glow across the outback night

And the bush is forced to hang a sign, ‘gone broke and won’t be back’

And spirits fear to find a way beyond the beaten track

When harvesters stand derelict upon the wind swept plains

And brave hearts pin their hopes no more on chance of loving rains

When a hundred outback settlements are ghost towns overnight

When we’ve lost the drive and heart we had to once more see us right

When ‘Pioneer’ means a stereo and ‘Digger’ some backhoe

And the ‘Outback’ is behind the house, there’s nowhere else to go

And ‘Anzac’ is a biscuit brand and probably foreign owned

And education really means brainwashed and neatly cloned

When you have to bake a loaf of bread to make a decent crust

And our heritage once enshrined in gold is crumbling to dust

And old folk pay their camping fees on land for which they fought

And fishing is a great escape; this is until you’re caught

When you see our kids with yankee caps and resentment in their eyes

And the soaring crime and hopeless hearts is no longer a surprise

When the name of RM Williams is a yuppie clothing brand

Not a product of our heritage that grew off the land

When offering a hand makes people think you’ll amputate

And two dogs meeting in the street is what you call a ‘Mate’

When ‘Political Correctness’ has replaced all common sense

When you’re forced to see it their way, there’s no sitting on the fence

Yes one day you might find yourself an outcast in this land

Perhaps your heart will tell you then, ‘. I should have made a stand’

Just go and ask the farmers that should remove all doubt

Then join the swelling ranks who say, ‘don’t sell Australia out’
Author unknown

It’s time to have your say Australia …

For those of you concerned about the sale of our wealth creating assets you will be pleased to know Dick Smith has his magazine being distributed over the next few days through Murdoch owned press. Keep an eye out for it. While Dick Smith Foods are one our AUSBUY members, for 21 years AUSBUY has represented hundreds of Australian owned businesses with the support of concerned Australians. They represent thousand of jobs and skills reinvested here. They are our Builders and Makers. 

We urge you to sign the AUSBUY petition (featured in DSF magazine). The most appropriate way to sign the petition is on line – so make sure you tell your friends and help us spread the word to support our owned while we still can. It is very difficult to present the government with bits of paper.

Go to www.ausbuy.com.au – click on the Time to Wake Up Banner where you will see the discussion and background to the petition and our surveys. TELL YOUR FRIENDS via email or on facebook and twitter. Get on talk back radio. Write to your local member. Browse the Be Informed and media sections on our site as background information. Find and Buy the AUSBUY Guide in stores. If they say they do not have it ask the grocery manager to order more.

AUSBUY initiated this discussion earlier this year. It has taken the Cubbie Station issue to raise awareness and concern.

We thank DSF for helping us spread the word. We also thank the many Friends of AUSBUY and Corporate members who continue to create jobs, nurture our skills and reinvest here. If you would like to become an AUSBUY friend, click here to join now and help us support our own.

If we do not look after our home no one else will.