Safe and green food campaign to woo Chinese

Lisa Martin
(Australian Associated Press)


When it comes to wooing Chinese shoppers with Australian brands the kangaroo is out – but clean, green and safe is in.

Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest made the case for a unified national brand to market premium Australian food and produce to China at a forum in Canberra on Tuesday.

After the mining boom, Australia is seeking to capitalise on the Chinese dining boom.

Mr Forrest said Chinese Premier Li Keqiang had once excoriated Australia for its poor marketing efforts in a private conversation with him, and had argued Australia was punching below its weight and states and territories and companies were cutting each other’s throats.

“You can walk miles of supermarket aisles in China and not be able to notice Australia,” Mr Forrest told a lunch at the Australia Sino 100 Year Agriculture Food Safety Partnership forum.

The group of agriculture and food manufacturers is behind a push for one Australian brand and logo emphasising the message clean, green and safe.

There have been scores of consumer product scandals in China in recent years, denting confidence and trust in locally-made products.

The worst was the the 2008 melamine milk scandal which killed six babies and caused 300,000 others to become ill.

Mr Forrest, a mining magnate and cattle producer, warned some key players in Australia might not like the campaign but the petty in-fighting between industry bodies and states had to stop.

“We’ve got to come together under one brand and one logo and grab just a small percentage of that massive market share,” he said, adding that China’s lifting of the one child policy meant an extra 16 million babies a year – the equivalent of eight Perth cities.

“The market is there, the question is will we capture it? The answer is absolutely not if you’re not recognised as the Chinese want to see you, not as you want to see you… it might not be true blue or any other of the corny things we’ve stuck to in the past.”

Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott said there are hopes the single brand and logo could be operating next year.

“It must be something that says to the Chinese consumer choose Australia, choose our products, choose us over food and wine from Brazil or Uruguay because we are safer, cleaner and greener than anything else on this supermarket shelf,” she said.

Austrade’s new chief executive, due to be appointed in the next few months, will be in charge of a pilot program for a unified brand strategy for China.

Advertising mogul Harold Mitchell said the idea of a unified Australian campaign scared some bureaucrats who were still scarred from the disastrous tourism campaign “Where the bloody hell are you?”.

But if the status quo remained, opportunities would slip away and other countries would cash in, he said.


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