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TAS Country : September 30th 2010
Friday, October 1, 2010 Tasmanian Country 11 Opinion Bowled over by lack of insight FRESH IDEA: Primary Industries and Water Minister Bryan Green pushes the State Government's food bowl strategy with cherry producer Howard Hansen. CHEWS theFAT David Byard The food bowl document that this came from is extremely well presented. However, it is like a mudguard --- shiny on top and rubbish underneath.' Continued Page 20 PEOPLE advising the Premier on his food bowl vision for Tasmania are in a world of fantasy. Take this great-sounding statement for instance: ''Tasmania will produce a high-value product for which we can get prices because of the conditions that we have in this state.'' The food bowl document that this came from is extremely well presented. However, it is like a mudguard --- shiny on top and rubbish underneath. The Premier, and by default the State Government, talks about developing markets and getting into high-value products and using Tasmania's attributes that will give us a strong market awareness. The document goes on to talk about Tasmania's credentials that are supported in our food industry on things such as HGP freedom, which Tasmania has banned, along with GMOs. In recent times Coles has announced it is going to ban meat containing HGPs in its stores. It should be remembered Tasmania led the way in the banning of the use of HGPs. However, in hindsight this was a retrograde step because Tasmanian farmers have not seen any increase in price that would compensate the loss of production that comes with using HGPs, or in fact any marketing advantage. For the past decade, numerous state governments have refused to put money into any campaign to label and advertise the fact that Tasmania is the only state to be HGP-free. In the food bowl document, branding gets a mention and is fundamental to target markets to create market demand and value. It is also reported that the State Government will be spending $250,000 a year over the next four years to understand our markets. I am amazed the State Government, its agencies, departments or advisers don't already have what I would have thought is basic market intelligence. What have they been doing for the past decade? Many of you attended or have read my past reports on the Independent Farmers Group forum held 12 months ago at Aurora Stadium. One of the things that became obvious was that we needed good data on what consumers require. It was decided to apply to the Beef Trust for funding to conduct a consumer needs survey. After much correspondence, rewriting and interference, the request was knocked back. The Beef Trust belongs to all producers and at present is under review. It will be interesting to see whether the Trust will remain under the control of the TFGA, or whether it will become completely independent. When funding was refused, the Independent Farmers Group rang around farmers and the local Tamar branch of the TFGA. Funds were found to employ a researcher to stand outside supermarkets in different areas and sites around the state to gather the appropriate information. The format of the questionnaire was set up by the DPI, TIAR and UTAS, who also interpreted the figures and extrapolated the data. This was a real team effort and showed what can be done with little money, a lot of goodwill, and when people think of the big picture and not their own pocket. Some of the interesting things that consumers had to say was that there is generally a low level of dissatisfaction with beef purchases (only 24 per cent said they were not satisfied with their beef). This was a summary of people's purchases over a period of time, not just recently. This came as a bit of a surprise because I felt that more people would be dissatisfied, so this could be seen as a good figure. But we must remember this is about all consumers. I am sure if this figure came up for chicken, pork or salmon, alarm bells would ring. I wonder if people are so used to buying meat of inconsistent quality that this has affected their mindset. In the survey, when people did express dissatisfaction, they were asked to comment on why they had been dissatisfied. Tenderness and price were the most common reasons. When asked whether buying meat of Tasmanian origin was important, by far the biggest majority said it was ''very important''. People were asked to mark 1-10 of importance, and the average was eight. When asked how important brand was, five was the average there. This infers Tasmanian origin was more important than brand. Significantly, 75 per cent had heard about HGPs, and of those 93 per cent would not buy beef that had been treated with HGPs. The most frequent reason given was that it was not natural. More people had heard about GMOs than not, and when asked if they would eat beef that had been fed using GMO material, more than 90 per cent said they wouldn't buy. It s a great time for the beef, lamb and crop markets, so it s time to invest in the future of your operation with quality Waratah fencing products. For professional fencing advice, talk to Waratah on 1310 80 or visit your local reseller now. Visit our website at www.onesteelwaratah.com.au Registered trademark of OneSteel Wire Pty Limited, Ingall Street, Mayfield, NSW 2304. ABN 59 000 010 873. ONE1400/TC
September 23rd 2010
October 7th 2010