Call to arms in face of pressure
AUSTRALIAN supermarkets should adopt a more rational approach when responding to consumer campaigns such as those calling for bans on cage eggs and growth stimulants in beef.
That is the view of Australian Consumer and Competition Commission agriculture commissioner Mick Keogh, who has informally vowed to spearhead a “rational retailer” campaign calling for more transparent labelling.
He said this woyuld work better than slapping “simplistic” bans on technology and farming practices that were falling out of favour with some consumers.
Mr Keogh told the Global Food Forum in Sydney last week better labelling was required to “make sure the consumer has a choice”.
Mr Keogh said he understood retailers had to respond to changing consumer preferences and be quick-footed enough to match demand with supply.
However, he warned them not to “damage the productivity and the potential of the whole agricultural sector . . . by doing that”.
Mr Keogh said he hoped his campaign would pressure major retailers to respond in a more measured and consultative way to demands from consumer and interest groups.
His comments have been welcomed by farming organisations.
National Farmers’ Federation president Tony Mahar said the agricultural supply chain had become more transparent.
Mr Mahar said the decision by some retailers to cease stocking cage eggs came at a cost to the sector’s productivity.
A Coles spokesman said its customers had told the company they wanted their food to be produced with as few additives as possible while maintaining high standards of animal welfare.
Woolworths did not respond to requests for comment.