There are growing calls for Australia’s leading supermarkets to introduce a shopping aisle specifically for Australian made products, as the nation looks to rebound from the economic collapse triggered by the coronavirus outbreak.
An online petition set up in April has called on Coles, Woolworths and IGA to introduce the aisle to allow Australians to support local businesses at a time when the agricultural industry has been brought to its knees by prolonged drought, and many businesses are feeling the strain due to coronavirus restrictions.
“Its time to start paying a few dollars extra and supporting local business, which in turn supports us,” the petition reads.
It has so far garnered just shy of 30,000 signatures.
The petition criticises Australia’s reliance on cheaper imported goods from other countries, which “costs us jobs and leaves us vulnerable in uncertain times”.
Some IGA stores have previously rolled out a similar scheme, where the store has attached large shelf labels indicating to a customer that a product is produced by an Australian owned company.
Woolworths and Coles respond to petition
In response to the petition, a Woolworths spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia it understood “how important” supporting Australian businesses was to its customers.
Yet the spokesperson pointed to its current layout in-store to which they say allows Woolworths shoppers to easily navigate Australian produce.
“Our stores are carefully laid out aisle by aisle to make the weekly shop as simple to navigate as possible for our customers and this will continue to be our approach,” the spokesperson said.
“We follow strict Country of Origin requirements across our stores and always encourage customers to read the labelling to make informed choices.”
While a Coles spokesperson did not respond to questioning on whether such an aisle has or would be considered, they reiterated the supermarket’s commitment to Australian brands and businesses.
“As an Australian company, we are keen to support other Australian businesses to deliver great quality local products to our customers,” they said.
“Coles takes its Country of Origin labelling responsibilities very seriously and customers can easily find out about the country of origin of our Coles Own Brand products by looking at the ticket or label.”
China tensions could turn shoppers towards Aussie products
The large support for the proposal comes amid growing tensions with China which has led to threats from the Asian powerhouse to boycott Australian produce.
Last month, China suspended meat imports from four Australian abattoirs as tensions grew, predominantly over the Morrison government’s initial vocal stance on an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus.
In a recent poll of 1000 Australian consumers by global investment firm Parabellum Investments, 68 per cent of Australians said they would reconsider buying Chinese goods.
“This pandemic has clearly demonstrated the dangers of Western economies being overly dependent on China,” Parabellum Investments CEO Rami Cassis said.
“We think increasingly negative consumer attitudes to China will influence how major corporations re-configure their supply chains in the wake of this pandemic.
“We expect many more to look for ways to source products and services locally, or from countries which are physically closer and culturally aligned.”
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