You wouldn’t eat a piece of food if we knew someone beside us was starving, you’d share it. You wouldn’t push someone out of a line to get closer to the front, you’d wait your turn. You wouldn’t leave a lost dog on its own because you’re running late, you’d stop and help it. For the most part, humans are taught compassion and to put others needs before or at the very least, alongside ours. So when we cry out for cheaper prices at the supermarket, why don’t we stop to think about the farmers who really are losing out?
This week George Weston Foods, one of Australia’s largest bakers, has publicly said that the current price war between Coles and Woolworths on bread is unsustainable for the industry. Since the market share driven price war began, the bread market has lost about $100 million in value. Fairfax media covered the story in depth yet the coverage was so in-depth about the consumer – what about the people who are losing that $100 million?
Andrew Reeves, CEO of George Weston Foods said, “There’s been on average a 10% reduction in the price of bread, which is very significant…”
“I don’t believe he current level of pricing is sustainable for the health of the category”.
If the price of bread has gone down by 10 per cent, then the consumer price edges closer to the production costs. Ultimately, grain from the farmers loses value and what once was enough to live off, may no longer be the case.
Australia’s farming and agriculture industry is arguably the backbone of the country – we wouldn’t be anywhere without it. It’s part of who we are to want to be generous to them and make sure that their industries are strong. But there comes a point when that is all too difficult, especially on a pension.
At the time of writing this, a loaf of white bread from Coles is $0.85. In contrast, a load of Grandma Moses white bread is $4.70. When your weekly income doesn’t stretch very far, every saving is needed and sometimes that means that the extra $3 that could be spent on more expensive, industry supportive bread just isn’t available.
We saw something similar with the milk wars of a few years ago, when the dairy farmers lost out hugely. And while the grain industry has a safety blanket in the bulk export market, it’s still a moral dilemma that so many Australian over 60s face every trip to the supermarket.
So when you’re faced with it, what do you do? Could you comfortably pay more for bread if you knew that it would help a farmer somewhere out there? Or is this a case when you have to put yourself first, even if it means someone out there loses? Share your thoughts in the comments below…