NZ Herald on Buy Australia

February 10th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

A buy-Australian campaign in two Australian supermarket chains is a sobering lesson for the Green Party and anyone else in New Zealand who advocates the same thing here. The unfairness to suppliers from this country is exactly the effect a buy-New Zealand campaign has in other countries, though the scale of our market diminishes the impact on most of them and increases the damage to us.

Exactly. Its hypocritical to relentlessly claim we should only purchase from NZ suppliers, and then complain when Australian supermarkets promote Australian food over NZ food.

The best thing we can do is to focus on quality of product and price, not country of origin.

Ultimately the best response of excluded suppliers is to make their products doubly attractive and competitive on the same market. Quality, taste, price and brand reputations can trump the country of origin in consumers’ decisions. But it takes a sustained marketing effort, preferably before a threat of this sort comes along.

You can’t take export markets for granted.

The campaign will pass, of course. As soon as the supermarkets sense consumers going elsewhere for familiar items they no longer stock, the non-Australian brands will be quietly restored. But the lessons should not be forgotten when we are urged to buy on country-of-origin labels. Compulsory labelling is a fine principle of consumer information but if the labels are used for an exclusive purpose, fair competitors somewhere will suffer.

Also correct me if I am wrong, but the Australian supermarkets have not banned any NZ food. They have made a decision to only use Australian sourced food for their in-house brands. There is a considerable difference.

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20 Responses to “NZ Herald on Buy Australia”

  1. Grant (444 comments) says:

    “Also correct me if I am wrong, but the Australian supermarkets have not banned any NZ food. They have made a decision to only use Australian sourced food for their in-house brands. There is a considerable difference.”

    I had heard this too, and John Key also said this was the case on a radio interview.

    It’s interesting that the commentary, particularly from the left, (which means the media as well as blogs), seems to heve overlooked this particular nugget of information. But, then, why let the facts intrude on a glorious story about Key being unable to tell Australian companies how to run their businesses.
    G

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  2. queenstfarmer (782 comments) says:

    The most ridiculous comment was David Cunliffe saying that John Key had “not negotiated hard enough”, as if it was within NZ’s power to somehow “force” the Australian Government to force private (non-state owned) Australian supermarkets to resume buying NZ products against their will.

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  3. Nookin (3,344 comments) says:

    Queenstfarmer

    In defence of Mr Cunliffe, you have to remember that he is, after all, an idiot.

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  4. Daniel (208 comments) says:

    I await the announcement from David Cunliffe that Labour intend to ban Australian Supermarkets if they don’t continue selling New Zealand sourced in-house products.

    I’m sure it will have as much impact as his ban on facebook.

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  5. nasska (11,517 comments) says:

    The argument not to use ‘country of origin’ labelling holds good so long as we are trading with a country such as Australia which has similar standards of supply & processing.

    It falls down when we import, say tinned tomatoes, from a SE Asian supplier not knowing whether the fruit has been grown in soil contaminated with industrial waste & sprayed with any toxic chemical to hand that will kill an insect or blight.

    As consumers we should have the information to make an educated guess as to whether our food could poison us.

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  6. dime (9,972 comments) says:

    All hail the all powerful Cunliffe.

    Step 1 – sit down with giant corporate and demand they pay more voluntary tax. Something Key seems unable to do

    Step 2 – negotiate HARD with someone in Australia who has no control over the supermarkets to ensure they are all eating kiwi food.

    Step 3 – spend 20 minutes making sure his sleeves are rolled up to the length that most “ordinary kiwi blokes” would have before struggling to pull in a canoe full of bros. Just like a real kiwi.. living in a herne bay mansion with no friends.

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  7. backster (2,172 comments) says:

    No doubt Cunliffe and Goof and others have been busily demanding that their soul comrades in the Australian Labor Opposition take a hard line with the Abbot Government lobbying and making Public press releases advocating on New Zealand’s behalf.

    Incidentally I see the ‘Woolworths home brand’ tin of salmon I purchased from Countdown the other week was ‘packed in China from local and imported ingredients’

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  8. greenjacket (466 comments) says:

    New Zealand is a country which exports 90% of the food it produces. So Cunliffe and O’Connor saying that NZ, a food exporting nation, should introduce Country of Origin Labelling (which allows domestic producers to bring in discriminatory policies against imported food – and which is probably in breach of WTO rules as the US is finding out) is proof that Key was not wrong – Cunliffe and O’Connor really are idiots.

    And nasska – the food you describe is not allowed to be sold in New Zealand or Australia – standards are set by Food Standards Australia New Zealand. You are confused between food safety standards (which are scientifically based and set by a Government agency) and country of origin labels (which are not scientific but protect domestic producers against imported food).

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  9. davidp (3,581 comments) says:

    Back in the 1970s, the UK was our largest trading partner. Then they got all protectionist. It took us a few years to readjust, but now we’re linked closely with some of the most dynamic economies in the world rather than a Europe that seems determined to keep itself in perpetual recession. We’ve benefited from the change.

    Just recently China overtook Australia as our largest trading partner. If Australia wants to marginalise itself while we develop our Asian trading links, then ultimately Australia loses and we benefit.

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  10. Yoza (1,875 comments) says:

    davidp (3,158 comments) says:
    February 10th, 2014 at 11:45 am

    Back in the 1970s, the UK was our largest trading partner. Then they got all protectionist.

    I thought it was because they joined the EEC.

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  11. dubya (235 comments) says:

    Yes that’s correct, Yoza – though I guess joining the EEC could be considered European regional protectionism.

    Whatever it was though, Britain hasn’t benefit from joing the EEC/EU. Britain does less trade with other EU countries now, than it did before joining the EEC.

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  12. nasska (11,517 comments) says:

    greenjacket

    I stand somewhat corrected…..a quick look at http://www.foodstandards.govt.nz reveals that there are some science based controls over what is imported.

    From a consumer choice POV I would still be happier with mandatory country of origin labelling.

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  13. igm (1,413 comments) says:

    Cunliffe and O’Connor detest the primary sector, as the primary sector knows what they intend to do to it, if they ever, and I sincerely hope not, get near the Treasury benches. They, along with their Green mates, are more dangerous than the fat German criminal, awaiting deportation orders.

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  14. simonway (387 comments) says:

    I heard Coles dumped Mainland cheese, which is not a store brand.

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  15. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    What is happening is that the Australian supermarkets “own label” brands are being given more and more shelf / fridge / freezer space at the expense of other manufacturers. Coles and Woolworths dream of vertically integrating the production of everything, so that the can dictate prices to producers and to consumers, who already struggle to find a reasonable choice in many food categories.

    Talk to any FMCG rep & they’ll tell you they’re constantly battling for shelf space and, mostly, losing by attrition. Only truly iconic brands like Vegemite seem safe.

    To think NZ products (or independent Australian products, for that matter) get a fair go and all we have to do is promote quality etc is naive. The supermarkets want to be in a position where producers must take the price their offered, or dump. That’s why milk is $1 a litre – great for consumers but not so great for a sustainable dairy industry.

    And when local production collapses, the home brands become as backster notes “made in China from local and imported ingredients”… which Coles and Woolworths have the audacity to promote as “buy Australian made” because it has their label on it.

    NZ products (which I always look out for) are increasingly being refused shelf space as simonway notes. That’s abuse of a oligarchy position, breaches the spirit (if not the letter) of CER and is clearly designed to pressure the likes of Mainland into selling unwrapped cheese at unsustainably low prices to be repackaged as a home brand – or be cut out of the Australian market altogether. The same “take it or leave it” deal offered to Australian producers.

    And we’re not supposed to counter this with a “buy NZ made” campaign? NZ used to be a fiercely independent, proud little country. Sometimes it seems like we’ve had all the fight knocked out of us.

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  16. Ben Dover (526 comments) says:

    Do you have any idea how how much food Aus can produce and how much
    POWER the Duopoly of Supermarkets have in AUS

    What they say goes

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  17. Ben Dover (526 comments) says:

    Home Branding is about Increasing Profits – Funny that

    it is usually the same product as non home brands – almost

    there is a lot of pressure to supply or else at this price or else
    it is off he shelf or else

    Too much power in the hands of Stupid Markets means less niche less innovation

    and the whole idea that the little guys small brands will succeed against these people is a joke

    Consumer choice is about Ripp OFF 1
    and Ripp off 2

    they have all or most of Australian Food production by the short and curlies and if you think
    they are going to cut little ole nz some slack dream on

    the Term Food N a t z is comes to mind

    http://www.bobkatter.com.au/issues/supermarket-duopoly.html

    Most Sane people try and buy as much as possible in Independent food markets

    Good Luck

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  18. gazzmaniac (2,307 comments) says:

    I heard Coles dumped Mainland cheese, which is not a store brand.

    Mainland Cheese was still there yesterday.
    I tend to do much of my shopping at Aldi, they are much cheaper than Coles and sometimes even have brand name products. I only use Coles or Woolworths as a convenience store (Aldi is a pain in the arse) or if I want a specific product that is not the same as a generic, such as Dilmah tea or Watties spaghetti.

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  19. Dean Papa (784 comments) says:

    “Also correct me if I am wrong, but the Australian supermarkets have not banned any NZ food. They have made a decision to only use Australian sourced food for their in-house brands. There is a considerable difference.”

    Indeed. The way it was covered by the media you could have easily believed that all NZ products were being physically removed from the shelves of Australian supermarkets. And judging by some of the angry comments many Kiwis believed exactly that. It is unfortunate that this has been framed by the media as being anti-Kiwi sentiment by Aussies. But that always seems to be the case with the media here. Kiwis can turn feral very quickly. I’ve seen some very hostile and abusive comments directed at Aussies, on the various forums. Many Kiwis seem to have managed to form an opinion that Kiwis have given so much to Aussie, and this generosity has not been returned. Not so much here on Kiwiblog though, where the readers are more cultured and restrained in the things they will say. But on the more feral websites, such as the Standard, or Whaleoil. My theory is that many Kiwis need to have their natural anti-Aussie sentiments validated. That is, they need to believe that Aussies are horrible and mean, especially to Kiwis. Because it makes the relentless Oz bashing from Kiwis seem justified. Otherwise it would just smack of general bad manners and having a large bag of potatoes on the Kiwi shoulder.

    Some of the comments on the Facebook were interesting too. It seems it is a patriotic issue for many Kiwis. They seem to have taken this so called ban on Kiwi products very personally, and claim they will now boycott the Aussie supermarkets, sometimes at great inconvenience, and cost to themselves. Which made me wonder how many of these same patriots would willingly do the patriotic thing and head down to their local bookstore for that book they are after, rather than buy it online from Amazon?

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  20. Mark (1,488 comments) says:

    The call for a bouycott of Countdown a “market resonse” of a sort…. If you dont buy our products for your australian we will not shop at your New Zealand supermarkets. I dont have any issue with either position. Woolworts Australia has taken its position based on what it argues is consumer demand. Fair enough I say, their shop and their customers. Equally if NZrs want to avoid countdown as an Australian owned supermarket in response fair enough also. A market response to a market response. I personally dont think a bouycott by NZ customers will get traction but if it does it will be interesting to see whether Woolworths react

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