01.Campaign levy criticised
Peak vegetable growers body Ausveg has written to celebrity chef Jamie Oliver requesting that he ask Woolworths to refund struggling farmers, who have contributed to its latest marketing campaign, after first raising the issue with the ACCC last week.
The horticultural body, which represents Australia’s 9000 vegetable and potato growers, claims that Woolworths is asking veg growers to contribute an additional 40c-per-crate of produce supplied to the retailer to help fund its “Jamie’s Garden” marketing campaign. Coined the “Jamie Oliver levy”, this 40c charge is on top of the mandatory 3-5% marketing levy that growers already pay to Woolworths.
According to Ausveg Public Affairs Manager, William Churchill, the extra 40c charge equates to approximately an additional 2.5% for marketing, which he claims represents about 30-40% of the growers’ profit margin.
Woolworths' media spokesman Russell Mahoney defended the campaign, telling The Australian that Woolworths had contacted suppliers prior to the campaign and about half had indicated they’d willingly pay the additional voluntary 40c charge. He made the point that the campaign benefits the whole fruit and veg industry.
Churchill argues that it’s not the campaign per se that’s the issue. “Ausveg’s primary concern is that financially-stretched Australian vegetable growers are being unfairly pressured into contributing to a marketing campaign for a company, which in February posted a $1.32 billion net profit,” he says.
“Clearly this campaign could be funded from Woolworth’s own coffers, without having to further squeeze Aussie growers,” Churchill adds.