Horticulture industry looks to Jamie Oliver to boost sales

THE horticulture industry is hoping some recent moves by the supermarket giants has signalled an end to the race to the bottom on prices with a new emphasis on fresh produce.

Earlier this month Woolworths announced a new partnership with celebrity chef Jamie Oliver in what the company itself described as one that would "focus on bringing better, healthier, affordable fresh food to life for everyday Australians, giving them the information and confidence to prepare great tasting fresh meals at home".

Jamie Oliver
Jamie Oliver Contributed


Coles has done similar through the marketing of fresh products shown on the MasterChef program, and this week hosted a Meet the Buyer day so farmers could get the opportunity to speak directly with supermarket buyers.

For horticulture industry body Growcom, they are positive developments.

Chief executive officer Alex Livingstone said 96% of all fresh fruit and vegetables sold in Australian supermarkets was domestic, so any move to promote fresh produce should increase demand.

"I think it started some time ago with the MasterChef program," Mr Livingstone said.

"If they featured a recipe with leek, they would sell out of that the next day.

"Woolworths took a leaf out of that book and have a really top name in Jamie Oliver.

"A lot of what he does is simple and easy, so hopefully people will rediscover the joy of cooking."

Mr Livingstone said there were some potential benefits in a three-year, $16.5 million deal between Woolworths and frozen vegetable producer Simplot.

Woolworths says it will absorb the cost of the decision and will put domestic produce on the shelves at the same price as imported products.

Mr Livingstone said this could provide another market for the industry's seconds.

There was nothing wrong with these seconds, he said, but their presentation was sometimes not good enough for supermarket shelves.

"I think this is a very good thing and has given Simplot some breathing space," he said.

Topics:  alex livingstone fruit and vegetables horticulture jamie oliver woolworths

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