Caveat Emptor “Australian Made”

An article detailing how small businesses are subject to conglomerates, patriotism and consumer buying habits on a routine basis.

Patriotism and buying habits

Australians have a reputation for being patriotic. Not to the extent of Americans, but enough so that many will choose to buy a product made in Australia instead of an imported one.

The labeling has even gone so far as to become state specific with the new “made in Victoria/Melbourne” lines seen on goods within and around the CBD.

Australian Made vs “Australian Made”

The state government has gone so far as to revise the labeling of Australian made goods in an attempt to thwart those who falsely advertise their goods as Australian Made.

The import of international goods provides jobs for Australians, whether it be in regards to packing and shipping, manufacture or even growing. The issue for many Australian’s is in relation to where their money is going.

Labels and Laws – brief overview

Since the 1930’s the Australian government has been incentivizing the “Buy Australian” campaign. It wasn’t until the late 1990’s that the program really took off through the implementation of AMCL.

Additional campaigns such as the “shop small” and “local harvest were later implemented so as to increase the amount of money circulated within local economies.

Recognizing Conglomerates

It may be all well and good to support Australian businesses; however an increasing number of companies are bought out by conglomerates. Though this supports a globalized economy it also makes it harder for small businesses to compete with “the big boys”.

When considering conglomerates you might think of the big international brands, however Australia has some conglomerates of its own that make life difficult for those trying to start a business. These include:

  • Lion
  • Fonterra
  • Murray Goulburn
  • Warrnambool Dairy Co.
  • Bidvest
  • Inghams

And the list goes on. Many of these companies will trade under subsidiaries, making it hard to spot a conglomerate product. However chances are that if you recognize the name it belongs to a conglomerate.

The cost of supporting “the little guy”

So how can you recognize products made by small to medium Australian businesses? Often it is as simple as either looking at the higher price tag or the minimal shelf space they occupy at supermarkets.

Due to our increased use of supermarkets, producers are at the whim of the supermarket CEOs.

If quotas are not met and the product pulled from the shelf the results can be detrimental to independent Australian businesses.

Undercutting the Competition

By far the biggest problem when trying to support producers is our willingness to dig deep. To give an idea of how fierce the competition is in regards to undercutting, you simply have to go to the local supermarket.

Let’s compare raw sugar.

1kg of “Homebrand” raw sugar goes for $1.09AUD, whereas CSR’s 1kg of raw sugar goes for $2.70AUD.

Though Homebrand products do source from Australian producers when they can easily obtain a bulk supply. The price difference provides a very one sided ultimatum for the consumer.

To be Patriotic or Save Money; the modern dilemma

Due to the label changes introduced by the federal government and AMCL, package labeling has become much easier for consumers to digest. However due to a lack of regulation in regards to undercutting tactics within the food production industry, many businesses are at the mercy of the consumer.

Yes, you have power, and you can choose who to support blah blah blah.

More important than your spending dollar is your ability to share your views via word of mouth. If you sample something delicious and it’s a little pricey, tell your friends about it. Spread awareness. You don’t have to ONLY buy Australian made goods ALL the time. You can support these businesses by encouraging discourse about them.