June 22, 2015

Farmers unite under the ‘True Aussie’ brand

Uniting under a single ‘True Aussie’ brand could give Australian farmers more visibility, more bargaining power and higher farm gate returns. Simon Talbot, Chief Executive Officer of the National Farmers’ Federation, discusses the opportunities and how farmers can make the most of them.

Simon Talbot, Chief Executive Officer of the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF), has a vision of walking into leading supermarkets in Asia and seeing prominent displays of red meat, seafood, horticulture and dairy produce all bearing the ‘True Aussie’ logo.

“You only have to look at the success of 100% Pure New Zealand to see the power of a highly-recognisable central brand,” he says. “I believe it’s long overdue in Australia and that consolidating all of our prem­ium fresh food exports under the ‘True Aussie’ banner would significantly improve farm gate returns.”

He stresses that ‘premium’ is key.

“Over the next 15 years Australia should move from a $50 billion to a $100 billion agricultural supply chain,” he says. “But even if we do double our production, we can only supply 1.4 percent of Asia’s middle class. To make that count, we need to focus on selling premium products to top-tier restaurants and supermarkets.

“Asian consumers are prepared to pay more for genuine Australian produce. A unified brand will tell them at a glance that they can trust what they’re buying to be 100 percent Australian and fully traceable from our paddock to their plate.”

More bargaining power

A unified brand would also give farmers more weight in negotiations.

“Our biggest agricultural export, red meat, is currently being sold under something like 75 different brand names, and it’s a similar story for seafood, horticulture and dairy,” says Talbot. “If these were all consolidated under a single brand we could offer four groups of fresh agricultural products of guaranteed quality in a clustered supply chain. That would make it much easier to negotiate more profitable agreements.”

A successful trial

NFF has been working closely with Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA), who developed the ‘True Aussie’ concept.

“We have just completed a 12-month trial where we sold branded red meat to eight of our top 12 export markets,” says Talbot. “The results were quite amazing. In Japan, for example, we achieved 91 percent consumer awareness, which is outstanding. We also had an 8 percent jump in beef sales and about a 25 percent uplift in the value of sales over the 12-month period. Our challenge now is making the most of a huge opportunity by rolling out branded red meat to other countries, including China.”

Together, NFF and MLA are developing standards that can be applied to all Australian agricultural products.

“This is in preparation for a major launch across the broad agricultural base that we’re planning for next year,” says Talbot.

Preparing to benefit

Farmers won’t have to pay to use the ‘True Aussie’ brand and Talbot believes that most will find they already meet the stringent standards.

“In Australia we have some of the highest farming and food safety standards in the world,” he says.

He recommends interested parties ask their local commodity council or Rural Research and Development Corporation for an appropriate business management plan.

“Working through this plan will help streamline your practices, improve production and boost your farm gate income,” he says. “This is not only good for business, it’s good preparation for selling under the ‘True Aussie’ brand.”

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