Archive for July, 2012

COLES & WOOLWORTHS The Boycott 20th July 2012

July 10, 2012

Australian Boycott of Coles & Woolworths 20th July 2012

Standing up for hard working farmers and producers by the Aussie public is a worthy cause on many fronts, weather it is to ensure hard working Australians get a fair go, demand clean fresh and healthy produce, or to simply ensure we maintain a fair and competitive market, the price of inaction is indeed a price to high to pay, says Mark Aldridge, local community advocate & Independent candidate.

Australia has one of the most concentrated grocery markets in the world. Woolworths and Wesfarmers (owner of Coles) account for almost 80% of supermarket sales, 60% of alcohol retail, 50% of petrol retail and 40% of all retail in Australia. The more market share they gain, the more influence they have over suppliers, and the easier it is to stamp out our smaller independent retailers.

Ironically West farmers originated in the early 1900’s as a coop to support farmers and producers, yet in recent times, have been accused more than once of using their new found power to rape farmers of their hard earned rewards.

*Supermarket giant Woolworths has been accused of using “brutal negotiations” to squeeze price cuts from suppliers to help fund a price war with rival Coles.*

Just recently many producers and growers have come forward with reports of unfair market manipulation, where Woolworths themselves have demanded a lowering of the wholesale price so they can enter a price war with Coles, those that refuse have been told they will be taken off the shelves, and we all know the risk of replacements coming from some foreign growers and producers.

“My investigations go much further showing all sorts of deceitful practices” says Mark

Recent legislation proposed by independent Senator Nick Xenophon would give power to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to apply to the courts to have the chains’ duopoly broken up. Says Mark “I sincerely hope such a move is in line with my original calls last year to limit the big 2 to a 30% to 40% share in line with most OCD countries”

“We the people must back such a move to ensure the future of our farmers and growers, that they are given not only a fair go, but a long term future with the added growth we so desperately need in Australia” said Mark, and Nick being a lone elected voice for common-sense needs the backing of the whole community, I certainly back him 100%.

Having met with many local producers and spoken to the experts in the agricultural industry, what I am hearing is simply un-Australian, from undue influence, market manipulation to our right deceitful and misleading conduct.

Most countries offer their primary producers government subsidies to help them compete on the world stage, our farmers and growers are by far the most productive, yet the governments only input is excessive red tape to achieve “Fresh food accreditation”, which most overseas governments ignore, begging the question “If imported foods take over where local fresh production once supplied all our needs, what exactly will we be eating?”

Hearing personal stories from so many growers brings a tear to my eye, months tending to their crops, careful picking and packing, shipping it off to one of the big 2, only to be told their produce is rejected, but wait we can take it of your hands for half price or less, yet the same produce hits the shelves at full price, wiping out producers on a weekly basis, this type of conduct is nothing more than criminal.

Woolworths “The fresh food people” have their hands in many pies, they are also Australia’s largest owner of poker machines (13,480 machines) and the largest seller of tobacco and alcohol, so their huge advertising budget selling them as supporters of local families appears to be more about their wallets, rather than what is best for the Australians themselves.

Wesfarmers operates in the areas of retail, coal mining, energy, insurance, chemicals and fertilisers, and industrial and safety products, buying up Coles Group in 2007 for $22 billion.

These supermarket giants have been blamed for Australians paying the fastest growing prices for groceries in the developed world, so it is as usual all about the money, it is not about the quality of the produce or the protection of hard working farmers and producers, and it is definitely not about our countries best interests.

“Woolworths and Coles are a $100 Billion a year duopoly with a retail market share unmatched in the developed world, and our politicians are doing nothing to stem their growth or market dominance” Says Mark Aldridge, so it is time we the people did!

With a reported 80% of the market in groceries, they have a massive impact in Australia, England’s largest 2 enjoy 48% and the US a mere 20%, so it is fair to consider our government should have put the brakes on long ago, and more than enough reason for we the people to do it for them in the circumstances.

Make no mistake their market share continues to grow, at the expense of smaller operators, hard working family farms and local producers, and most importantly the quality and availability of our fresh produce.

We have lost a huge slab of farming land to international interests, most of our larger manufactures and mass food packaging companies have also found their way of shore, so it has become imperative that those that remain are not only protected but we build an accountable system, which will reward increased investment in the vital production of our food stocks, not just for us, but also for future generations.

Have many noticed that most big shopping centres only have one or maybe both of these grocery stores, yet none of their competitors, well that is not a coincidence, their huge money ensures they can now control competition.

The impending price war may seen a godsend to those suffering on a tight budget, but as the saying goes “the bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten”, what do you want your children and future generations eating in the future, let alone what they may be forced to pay?

It is not only about how our producers are treated and even paid, it is also about the rights of consumers, my wife and I prefer local products and Australian made items, yet it is far from easy to tell the difference, labelling is less than satisfactory, and some home brand products are deliberately misleading, shelf placement also makes a huge difference.

So many issues arise when we simply wish to make an informed choice, Australian made, GMO, even Halal certification, as if we need not know, yet it is our money, our bodies and our long term future, so it should be our choice, China is known to treat its cabbages with formaldehyde and some foreign apple growers used the antibiotic streptomycin on their apples to control fire blight, do any of us want our children exposed to this?

“23 cents in every dollar Australians spend ends up in this duopolys pockets” begging the question “Where the hell is our government and their ACCC.

Dare we allow this to continue, our farmers, growers and producers are being forced to live on as low as 5% of what you are paying at the counter, so the supposed huge discounts on offer are smoke and mirrors, and it becomes unbelievable the big 2 want to reduce their meagre 5%, do the sums, only then will you get a true picture facing those on the land.

“The story I heard today of an area with 27 growers being reduced to 2, due to dirty practices, in less than a year is simply unacceptable”

On the 20th of July I call on every Australian to stand behind our farmers and producers, by boycotting both Coles and Woolworths, until this issue is resolved, or they at least come to the party with a fair system and treatment of their Aussie suppliers.

We must also demand easy to read labelling to allow us to support local produce and priority shelve locations, if they are all about serving the Australian public, then these demands should be perfectly acceptable.

Protests will be held all over Australia on Saturday the 21st of July to ensure all Australians are well informed about this very important event.

For more information please contact the writer.

Mark M Aldridge

Community advocate and Independent candidate

08 82847482 / 0403379500