Woolworths has rescinded on a longstanding commitment to allow international buyers from crucial Asian export markets to visit a distribution centre in Sydney, in the wake of growing-criticism over its demands growers contribute to a marketing campaign featuring Jamie Oliver.

AUSVEG CEO, Mr Richard Mulcahy, said the buyers had been due to visit the Woolworths facility next week as part of an initiative aimed at encouraging Australian vegetable export growth.
“This churlish action by Woolworths is not in the national interest given that both industry and the Australian Government have identified expanding export markets as a crucial priority for the future growth of our industry,” said AUSVEG CEO, Mr Richard Mulcahy.
AUSVEG is the leading horticultural body representing Australia’s 9,000 vegetable and potato growers.
“My staff received a call from a Government Relations executive at Woolworths this morning informing us the relevant people are ‘no longer available’ for the visit to the distribution centre next week.”
“Woolworths are certainly not winning friends in the Australian vegetable industry, nor with customers by taking such a belligerent attitude on matters of such critical importance to our nation.”
“Cancelling the visit is a retrograde step and represents a further blow to Australian vegetable growers who have already been asked to wear costs associated with Woolworth’s Jamie Oliver campaign.”
Woolworths have been under fire since last week when AUSVEG exposed that the supermarket giant had asked growers to contribute an additional 40 cents per crate of produce supplied – on top of contributions they already pay for marketing – for the massive new campaign featuring celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.
For some growers the additional money amounts to hundreds-of-thousands of dollars, and represents a significant blow to profitability.
Mr Mulcahy also wrote to Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Chairman, Mr Rod Sims, requesting the supermarket’s behaviour towards its suppliers be investigated.
“Earlier this week, I also wrote to Mr Jamie Oliver pleading with him to ask Woolworths to refund money to struggling farmers, who have already paid for the campaign,” said Mr Mulcahy.
“I repeat my call for Mr Oliver to intervene in this matter on behalf of the hard-working growers who supply Woolworths.”

MEDIA CONTACT: William Churchill, Public Affairs Manager, AUSVEG 
Phone: (03) 9882 0277 | Mobile: 0411 166 748| E-mail: william.churchill@ausveg.com.au