New buy WA scheme planned

THE Western Australian Government is finalising a new buy local scheme in partnership with independent supermarkets and WA food producers.

The scheme, to be branded Buy WA First, is scheduled to be launched in early May.

It effectively marks the death of the old-style Birthmark campaign, which has languished for many years through lack of promotion.

The new scheme will have participating supermarkets introducing distinctive shelf labels to identify WA-made or WA-grown products.

The independent supermarkets will coordinate product discounting with WA suppliers to help promote local produce.

The Government plans to support the new initiative by funding a mass-market advertising campaign.

WA Independent Grocers’ Association president John Cummings welcomed the proposed scheme.

“We are more than happy to be involved,” he said.

“Up to 60 per cent of what our members sell is made or grown in WA. The more WA produce that is sold, the better off we will all be.”

The association has more than 700 members with collective sales of $1.2 billion.

Its members include about 200 supermarkets trading under the Dewsons, Supa Valu and Foodland franchise banners that are coordinated by wholesaler Foodland Associated Limited

FAL franchise manager Russell Bradshaw also supports the scheme.

“We are very interested in aligning our businesses, which are WA owned, with WA producers,” he said.

“We want to strengthen that relationship so that WA independents and WA producers can protect their market. Working together we can do that.”

Suppliers that have participated in planning meetings include Peters & Brownes, Dorsogna, Harvey Fresh, Globe Meats and George Weston Foods, owner of the Watsonia smallgoods brand.

The detailed workings of the scheme need to be finalised before food producers commit to participate.

Mr Cummings praised State Development Minister Clive Brown for initiating the new scheme, which has similar goals to the old WA Week promotions and Birthmark campaigns.

Commenting on the Birthmark campaign, Mr Cummings said: “Its been done so sporadically for the past 10 years, it’s lost a lot of its impact”.

The new scheme is one of many initiatives led by the Local Content Unit in the Department of Industry and Resources.

The unit also seeks to maximise local content in government purchasing decisions.

Mr Cummings said the aim of the discounting scheme was to ensure that WA products at least matched the price of interstate or overseas goods.

“What we are saying to the consumer is that you can go to another store and buy, say, Victorian yoghurt or you can come to our store and buy the WA product for the same price,” he said.

Mr Cummings said the food producers would decide which goods were discounted.

“We would go to them and tell them the WA products we are planning to promote that week and they could then plan their product discounts,” he said.

“In a typical Dewsons, there is about 500 to 600 items on special in any one week. We would try to ensure that as many as possible would be WA products.”

It is understood the Government has written to the two national supermarket chains, Woolworths and Coles, inviting them to participate in the scheme.

Mr Cummings said he would welcome the inclusion of Woolworths and Coles.

For the past three years, the independent grocers have run a campaign in partnership with the Citrus Council to promote WA-grown table fruit.

The citrus campaign, which revolves around the addition of a blue sticker to local fruit, had contributed to a 12 per cent rise in local production according to Mr Cummings.

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