Woolworths considers ‘local’ branding

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 23rd September 2013

Australian supermarket group Woolworths is continuing its push to be seen as a supporter of Australian farmers and suppliers, as it considers a new branding strategy called ‘Woolworths Local’.

The supermarket group has registered Woolworths Local as a trademark, and has registered the domain name woolworthslocal.com.au.

The move by Woolworths comes not long after the supermarket announced that it would source all of its own brand deciduous canned fruit products from Australian manufacturer SPC Ardmona. That decision – a $3 million investment – will see all Woolworths own brand canned apples, pears, peaches and apricots come from Australian growers. At the time of the announcement, SPC Ardmona projected that the move would save 50,000 trees in Victoria’s Goulburn Valley, benefitting 118 local fruit growers.

“Canned fruit is an iconic pantry item. Our customers are passionate about great food, and so are we – they want to see more Australian sourced products on our shelves wherever possible, and so do we,” said Jim Stephan, Woolworths Head of Canned and Frozen Goods, when the SPC Ardmona announcement was made.

‘Local’ strategies

Both Woolworths and its rival supermarket group Coles have implemented strategies designed to demonstrate commitment to supporting Australian farmers and food manufacturers.

Australian Food News reported in January 2013 that Woolworths had launched a ‘Local Food Sourcing Strategy’, which the supermarket group said aimed to bring more locally produced foods to the shelves of its stores. The marketing of the Woolworths brand as ‘local’ continues a marketing strategic re-positioning that began with the change in the supermarket group’s slogan in 2012 from “Woolworths the Fresh Food people” to “Woolworths Australia’s Fresh Food people”.

Coles has also implemented a similar strategy to appeal to consumers who are concerned about whether the food they buy in the supermarket is Australian-grown or imported, with a campaign called “Helping Australia Grow”. This campaign faced a bump in the road in July 2013, when Coles was fined for displaying some imported navel oranges and kiwi fruit underneath price boards reading “Helping Australia Grow” with the triangular ‘Australian Grown’ symbol.

Supermarket-supplier relationship concerns

The most recent move by Woolworths comes amid growing concern about supermarket-supplier relationships in Australia, which has seen both Woolworths and Coles face heat from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), industry groups and the media. Negotiations for a voluntary code of conduct to govern the relationship between supermarkets and suppliers have been underway for nearly a year.

Australian Food News reported earlier in September 2013 that food law experts FoodLegal are to run a symposium on supermarket-supplier relationships in Sydney in November 2013. Speakers at the symposium will include supermarket and supplier representatives, as well as policy makers and legal representatives.

Woolworths is considering 'local' branding