Jamie Oliver response to call for support labelled as ‘lame’ by industry

The Jamie Oliver Group has missed an opportunity to support Australian farmers and take a strong stand in the wake of public anger over a new marketing campaign being run by Woolworths in a recent letter from their offices in London. Growers from across the country have been making confidential complaints to AUSVEG over a new 40c a crate levy Woolworths are charging growers to fund their new marketing campaign in addition to the up to 5% marketing levy growers already pay the supermarket giant.

“AUSVEG is disappointed in the lacklustre response from the Jamie Oliver Group for not taking a stronger stand on the issue after AUSVEG exposed Woolworths last week who are levying farmers 40c a crate to pay for their new marketing campaign,” said AUSVEG Public Affairs Manager, William Churchill.

AUSVEG is the national Peak Industry Body representing Australia’s 9,000 vegetable and potato growers.

AUSVEG is disappointed that the Jamie Oliver Group has let slip the opportunity to take a stronger position on the issue stating in their letter that they are essentially an employee of Woolworths and not in a position to influence Woolworths’ business decisions.

“This is in stark contrast to the position Mr Oliver took in 2012 where he signed an open letter to The Times objecting to the price of milk. It’s sad that a similar stand has not been made here,” said Mr Churchill.

Vegetable growers have raised concerns to AUSVEG that they have been unfairly pressured into committing additional money to the Woolworths campaign with many fearful of retribution should they not comply with the retailer’s request.

“It’s unfair, unreasonable and un-Australian for Woolworths to expect that growers should wear the additional costs of this marketing campaign, particularly when their margins are already wafer thin.”

“Growers have seen this levy by Woolworths as a slap in the face and a double dip into their wallets and are rightfully outraged,” said Mr Churchill.

“That Woolworths are holding up one grower who has had to negotiate their payments for this ‘voluntary levy’ gives quite a strong indication that growers involvement is not because they are supportive of the campaign but because they don’t want to threaten their business with the supermarket giant”.

Woolworths posted a net profit of $1.32 billion dollars in February and could easily have funded the initiative from its own coffers.

Growers have been heartened by the outpouring of support from the Australian public since news of the Woolworths campaign was exposed over a week ago.

Posted 16 June 2014


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