09/07/2008 - 22:00

Buying local easier said than done

09/07/2008 - 22:00

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The food industry has questioned the effectiveness of the Department of Agriculture and Food's latest marketing campaign to encourage consumers to buy locally made products.

Buying local easier said than done

The food industry has questioned the effectiveness of the Department of Agriculture and Food's latest marketing campaign to encourage consumers to buy locally made products.

The 'Buy West Eat Best' campaign, launched earlier this year, educates consumers on which supermarket products are made in WA by displaying a green logo.

Companies must apply to the department to use the logo, provided they meet all of the criteria before being registered.

The government has committed $1 million in funding over three years to the campaign.

Ambrosia Quality Foods managing director John Percy said he found the campaign restrictive.

"When we had a look we found we couldn't actually do it," Mr Percy told the forum. "We buy our meat through wholesalers and we don't know that it's all coming from WA.

"Sometimes certain cuts come from other states, and also the meals we use in our products all come from the eastern states. I found the campaign a bit restrictive."

Canon Foods managing director Richard Pace said local shortages of different ingredients at certain times of the year made compliance with the program too difficult.

"Ninety-eight per cent of what we process comes out of the local market, but a times there are opportunistic buys and shortages. We can't change our packaging for one small run, so we can't use the 'Buy West Eat Best'," he said.

Leanne Wesche, managing director of the Pacco Group, WA's largest fruit and vegetable packing house, said while her research had found that an overwhelming majority of consumers wanted to buy Australian-made products, she was sceptical of the effectiveness of buy-local campaigns.

Ms Wesche said the campaigns didn't take the seasonal nature of fresh produce into consideration, with consumers demanding product all year round.

Fonterra Brands WA managing director Peter Tedesco said Fonterra would be signing up to the campaign.

He believes Fonterra's involvement with the campaign will help re-establish its WA focus with local consumers after the multi-national took over the iconic WA brand Peters and Brownes in 2005.

To be eligible for inclusion in the campaign, fresh products such as fruit, vegetables, meat and seafood, must be grown, fished or farmed in WA.

For processed food, the main ingredient must be grown, fished or farmed in WA and the product must be processed in WA.

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