SOME of us are saying ‘Yes’ to Aussie-owned businesses and ‘No’ to the supermarket duopoly. Since I wrote about buying lettuce in a sealed bag this ‘lazy shopper’ has found two good local greengrocers and I’ve gone back to my old butcher. It’s a different relationship….. I like it, it’s not dearer and it only takes a few minutes to walk down the arcade…..next step is to find a local Farmers’ Market! How are you finding the generic brands on supermarket shelves – probably ‘made in China’?
I am glad to see some individuals and community groups prepared to ‘take on the duopoly’. It seems in 2007 acting locally on global issues is being called ‘relocalisation’. Journalist Russ Grayson describes this as “an idea thrown up in response to the possible peaking of the supply of oil and, to a lesser extent, to global warming. What gives it greater value than many of the solutions coming from the environment movement is its broader benefit to society, especially to local farmers, producers, community enterprise and businesses.”
Relocalisers ask us to reflect on our future and act in ways that give us more control over our lives and ‘locales’, ways that are less dominated by global corporations and consumerism, with all its consequences.
Consumers are NOT aware of foreign food ownership and how difficult it is for farmers to get their produce onto supermarket shelves where foreign food companies dominate. Aussie Farmers Direct spokesman Graham Adams in a radio interview on 3RPH (scroll down) explains:
“The Commission cannot interpret its responsibility to promote competition to mean the protection of individual companies and the outlawing of vigorous, legitimate competition – even where that competition causes difficulties for individual firms….the distinction between promoting competition and protecting consumers (is) confused and blurred by some sectors…”
So, because the independent grocers in IGA/Metcash and Australian growers – who can’t win shelf space from cheap imports – are ‘simply competing’ the ACCC will not interfere…
you have to scratch your head if respected Harvard economist Professor Michael Porter holds that (Executive Summary):
“strong domestic rivalry between firms contributes to national prosperity in terms of GDP per capita”
if American antitrust laws – those which make unfair trade practices illegal – have the power to intervene if something seems amiss (eg growers’ margins going down while consumer prices rise), why is the ACCC not looking at Competition Law in the same light as the American Antitrust Institute:
“Antitrust laws speak in general terms, thereby leaving a lot of room for discretion on the part of administrators and judges. As something more akin to art than science, antitrust is subject to swings in political ideology and economic theory.”
In Melbourne, William Scott, 27, and Jordan Muir, 26, have seen an opportunity to cut out the middleman and provide fresh Australian produce to a market that wants to support Australian farmers and their communities.
They have formed a consortium called The Smart Group (pdf) and under the banner of Aussie Farmers Direct’ they have established a franchise that sells fresh Australian milk, juice, bread and other staples.
Deliveries are twice weekly, before 7am. Customers are given cooler bags to leave on their front porch the night before. Negotiations are underway with Australian-owned dairies and bakeries in Sydney and Perth to expand the network.
In 2003, Coles and Woolworths….announced they would introduce a new two and three tier generic product range. To make way for these
new products 23,000 lines would go. Australian-owned brands suffered most….Many multi-nationals, to make their brands more competitive for the limited spaces on the duopoly’s supermarkets’ shelves started bringing in product from their lower cost factories overseas.”
Ritchies are using degradable bags at all their supermarket and liquor outlets
Russ believes local government could support citizen and local business initiatives that comply with relocalisation aims. Even if the impact of peak oil is not as drastic as some say, relocalisation activities, enabled by local government policy, would still benefit communities. However, he says, many relocalisation associations are new and still finding their feet in the world of community development and advocacy. Many don’t know how to co-operate in policy formulation. What they need to understand is that policy is an enabling thing under which a great many socially-beneficial initiatives can be launched.