AUSVEG maintains growers felt pressure to contribute to Woolworths campaign
AUSVEG has expressed a lack of surprise at comments by Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Chairman Mr Rod Sims stating the watchdog had been unable to find evidence that Australian growers were unfairly pressured into contributing to a Woolworths marketing campaign featuring Jamie Oliver.
AUSVEG nevertheless stands by its claims that Australian growers did feel pressure to contribute a 40c-per-crate of produce supplied levy to the retail giant to help fund the marketing campaign.
“We know this to be the case because leading growers from around the country approached us with their concerns, and that’s why we went public,” said AUSVEG spokesperson Andrew MacDonald.
AUSVEG is the leading horticultural body representing 9,000 Australian vegetable and potato growers.
“From the outset AUSVEG maintained that many growers were afraid to go on the public record regarding their concerns about contributing to the campaign because they were worried about possible reprisals in terms of their future business dealings with the supermarket giant.”
“This is completely understandable given Woolworths is the largest customer for many of these growers.”
“AUSVEG also held concerns that were the matter to have progressed further, the anonymity of many growers could not have been guaranteed, prompting their further reluctance to go on the record.”
“AUSVEG believes further whistle blower protections are needed to protect growers faced with this situation, and has made representations to the government in this regard.”
Mr MacDonald also noted Mr Sims’ comment that the ACCC was able to reconsider the matter if “other supplier experiences come to light”. Mr MacDonald added the outpouring of public support for Australian growers once AUSVEG went public with concerns had been truly heartening.
“AUSVEG unapologetically works tirelessly to improve the lot of Australian vegetable and potato growers, and we are thoroughly of the view, that by bringing these concerns to public light, we have done just that,” said Mr MacDonald.
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