Woolworths’ Jamie Oliver campaign funded by extra levy on growers, AusVeg
Independent Senator for South Australia, Nick Xenophon, has joined with vegetable growers’ representative body AusVeg to call on the ACCC to investigate the behaviour of Woolworths over its just-announced Jamie Oliver campaign.
Senator Xenophon and AusVeg said the campaign, featuring international food icon Jamie Oliver, is being funded by an additional levy on individual growers of 40c per crate. AusVeg said this was in addition to the fee of up to a 5 per cent that growers are already charged by Woolworths to pay for the supermarket giant’s marketing and promotion fees for fresh vegetables.
AusVeg said growers around the country were being given no undertaking from Woolworths on what return they would see from the additional funds they were being asked to provide to fund the promotion.
AusVeg and Senator Xenophon held a press conference late last week to expose Woolworths’ behaviour.
“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.
“Jamie Oliver has been a great ambassador for good food but he’s being used to impose a bad deal on growers,” 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,” he said.
Senator Xenophon said he would be writing to Jamie Oliver about the extra levy and inviting the celebrity chef to meet with individual farmers and vegetable industry groups.
Vegetable growers “furious” at Woolworths
AusVeg said growers around the country were “frightened” that if they did not comply with these requests to fund the campaign their business with the country’s biggest supermarket would be blacklisted and they would start to 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,” said AUSVEG Acting CEO, William Churchill.
“Australia’s farmers cannot afford to fund Woolworths’ marketing campaigns and expectations that growers should contribute more are totally unreasonable,” Mr Churchill said. “The ACCC must immediately investigate,” he said.