In the news

The Australian Farm Institute’s popular blog Ag Forum provides frequent posts on current agricultural issues. The post ‘Whole Food Markets shows how to add value to agriculture, not drag it down, down,’ (15/01/13) discussed the marketing position of the American retailer Whole Food Markets, comparing its system of graded levels of animal welfare to those used by Australian supermarkets.

Whole Food Markets has recently introduced an animal welfare rating system for its meat products. In contrast to Australian retailers, Whole Food Markets jointly developed the system with its suppliers, advertises the system widely in its stores and explains it to consumers, and has an independent third party involved in the accreditation of its farmer/suppliers. Even more importantly, suppliers are not forced to adopt the standards, but can choose the Step level they wish to be accredited to, and their products are labelled accordingly when displayed on the retail shelf.

Similarly, under the system consumers can choose the level of animal welfare they believe is appropriate, and actually confirm that choice by selecting the product and paying for it. This is a much more realistic and market-oriented approach that the retailer simply dictating what it believes consumers want.

This post elicited a response from Robert Hadler, General Manager of Corporate Affairs at Coles, and an ongoing blog conversion of questions and answers between himself and the Institute. The conversation formed a chain of five comments, back and forth, with Robert Hadler finally signing-off with the statement: ‘I am currently writing an article for the March edition of the Farm Policy Journal which will comment on these issues in more detail.’

Out and about

Recently the Institute’s Executive Director, Mick Keogh, has spoken at:

  • Philanthropy Australia Rural & Regional Affinity Group Forum, Canberra
  • GRDC Grains Research Updates, Biloela and Capella, Queensland
  • Horticulture Australia Limited Annual Industry Forum, Sydney

Mick Keogh also travelled throughout Washington and the mid-west of the United States, including Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas.

In November 2012, the Institute held its annual Australian Agriculture Roundtable Conference in Brisbane.

Back to February 2013 Insights contents page.

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Images:  Geoff Penaluna, USDA