Supermarket giant Woolworths is facing a social media backlash after suggesting that imported beans are “far superior” to local produce.
ABC journalist Emma Field tweeted a photo of Woolworths’ bean and peas shelf, asking why all the beans she saw were from overseas.
It was the response from Woolworths that has angered some consumers and farmers.
Woolworths said: “Hi Emma, we’re sorry to hear about disappointment towards our tinned beans. We aim to provide the best quality products to our customers and sometimes this means supplying imported products as they’re far superior.
“Nonetheless, we understand your frustration and we’ll be sure to pass your concerns to our relevant team for future considerations. Thanks for getting in touch and have a great day!”
The mention of overseas beans being “far superior” to Australian crops has angered many, including Victorian Farmers Federation Vice-President Brett Hosking.
Mr Hosking said the tweet stood in strong contrast to Woolworths’ other statements that it was working hard to support local farmers.
“I was actually quite shocked that they would have come out and said that, to imply that overseas products are superior to local products,” Mr Hosking told ABC news.
“Both major supermarkets have put a lot of work into extolling how much work they’ve put into working with growers, and how much they want to support Australian growers.
“Then to set a statement like that that completely contradicts all that rhetoric, it’s really disappointing.”
However, Mr Hosking conceded that it could be hard to find Australian tinned beans on the shelves.
“There is always a challenge of getting things processed domestically,” Mr Hosking added. “And there’s a variety of reasons for that. The cost of manufacturing is higher than it is in many countries.
“For a processor to set up here in Australia, they’d probably need the support of the major supermarkets saying ‘If you come out and process your products here, we’ll stock them on our shelves’.
“So maybe that’s a challenge Woolworths has set for themselves, is to say ‘Alright, if we want the far superior product, we have to help set it up domestically’.”
In a statement, a Woolworths spokesperson apologised for the tweet, saying: “It does not reflect our view of Australian-grown products. In fact, 96 per cent of all our fresh fruit and vegetables is proudly sourced from Australia. Sometimes we do need to source products from overseas, but it’s always our first preference to source locally.”
Hi Emma, we’re sorry to hear about disappointment towards our tinned beans. We aim to provide the best quality products to our customers and sometimes this means supplying imported products as they’re far superior. 1/2
— Woolworths (@woolworths) July 30, 2018
Dick Smith slams ALDI for imported goods
Woolworths’ embarrassing tweet comes a week after Aussie icon Dick Smith decided to close shop on his long-standing food business, blaming the competitive market and one supermarket in particular – ALDI.
Dick Smith Foods was claimed to be “as Australian as you can get”, supporting Australian farmers and manufacturers.
Despite several products still being stocked in Coles and Woolworths, Mr Smith claimed that the only way the company was able to achieve significant sales in recent times was by discounting so much that it was often losing money.
Mr Smith praised Coles and Woolworths for doing “everything they can to keep us on the shelves”, while claiming ALDI used its networks in cheaper markets to keep costs down, and said that meant Australian producers suffered.
In response, ALDI Australia CEO Tom Daunt said the business employed 11,500 Australians and partners with more than 1,000 local suppliers.