Sustainable Competitive Advantage for Australian Farmers

Posted by on Jul 23, 2013 in Opinion | Comments Off on Sustainable Competitive Advantage for Australian Farmers

Sustainable Competitive Advantage for Australian Farmers
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I don’t know what it is, I just feel better about buying seafood grown in Australia. Well actually I do know what it is, I have traveled a lot and seen a lot of factories and I think I would prefer something produced under Australian Food Standards.

The reason for this is that very little imported food products are stringently tested to ensure they meet Australian Standards.  Getting back to the seafood, the Australian product is generally about 10% more expensive and I am sure Australian prawns would outsell the imported equivalent (over the counter) – wholesale may be another story.

A long time ago, Australian farmers controlled insect pests by using broad spectrum insecticides, unfortunately these (which are still used in many developing countries) killed all insects that moved – including the predator insects controlling the “pest”.  Over time, as a result of substantial research, this has drastically changed in Australia.  With the development of specific targeted (pest specific) insecticides, Australian farmers have been able to drastically reduce the amount of chemicals applied to Australian crops.  In other words, as far as is possible, farmers let the natural environment control insect numbers until such time that they are forced to intervene.

If you visit North American retail stores you will see that up to 30-40% of the produce is actually claimed to be organic.  This is the fastest growing sector in Agriculture.  At this point, as a result of the Australian environment, commercial organic farming is arguably not possible at this stage.  This, however is not my point.

Going back to the seafood argument; it is driven or motivated by awareness, but we are not aware of the options with produce.  Australian grown produce, although not officially “organic” is “almost organic” when compared to much of the imported produce.

Australian farming organisations need to communicate these messages, whether it be done by a voluntary Australian Farming certification program with appropriate labeling and communication, or a Government scheme (maybe not).  However it needs to be done and someone needs to drive this. The message needs to target main stream consumers and maybe then we will see this supermarket duopoly “race to the bottom” change to actually building a better retail offering.

An Australian “clean food” program is the best defense Australian farmers have against the duopolies obsession with the “race to the bottom”.

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