With supermarkets contemplating the mass importation of fruit and veg following widespread flooding in Australia’s eastern states, the organic industry has urged shops and shoppers to buy Australian.
Australia’s main supermarkets, Coles and Woolworths, are weighing up whether to sell the water-damaged crops of Australian producers or turn to imports, The Sydney Morning Herald reported this week.
Both chains have relaxed their strict rules on the appearance of fruit and veg to stock damaged produce. But they faced consumer resistance to blemished goods, a Woolworths spokeswoman said. “It’s very difficult,” she said.
It’s not just a question of blemishes or no blemishes. Higher prices and shortages of Australian produce are also looming, making mass importation likely.
But the organics peak body, the Organic Federation of Australia, says many shops had turned to imports even before the floods. The federation has urged everyone to buy Aussie whenever they can.
“Prior to this disaster, we saw a situation developing with many retailers sourcing cheaper food, including organic food, from overseas,” the OFA’s Miriam Neilson said.
“We now call on these retailers to support Australian produce, where possible, in order to enable these farmers to get back on their feet.”
Developments will be interesting. Will consumers embrace the concept of buying food based on ethics rather than price and appearance? And will the supermarkets give them the opportunity? After all, who knows where that kind of thinking might lead.
By: Simon Webster
First published: January 2011