A NATIONAL BRAND
FOR AUSTRALIAN AGRICULTURAL PRODUCE:
WHY, WHAT, WHEN, AND HOW?
There is a huge degree of talk — and a bit of traction and action — focused on creating a unified, national brand for our produce.
Government stakeholder consultations — domestic and international — have shown "broad support for the concept of a national food brand".
However, there are already existing branding initiatives at various state and commodity levels.
Are you a SUPPORTER OR A SCEPTIC?
Understand the debate — as well as the progress — right here!
ARGUMENTS FOR & AGAINST
Australia's food attributes (quality, clean, safe, animal and environmental welfare) are valued in international markets.
Buyers may be willing to pay a premium for a recognised national brand, triggering benefits down the supply chain.
A brand that differentiates our products may assist Australian agriculture to remain competitive in commodity markets.
High cost and who would pay for it?
Failure to uphold brand attributes — in a crisis or otherwise — could damage the entire industry.
Differences between sub-sectors — as well as between value-added and commodity products — render an all-encompassing brand ineffective.
Existing brands (e.g. state-based brands, Dairy Australia etc.) could suffer and consumers may be confused by different efforts.
Some commentary from some respected sources on opportunities and challenges of the national branding debate:
"Ultimately we are a fairly small player in a big global food business. In my view, the more unified front we can put behind Australian produce, the better." Andrew Cox in, "New push for unified Australian agricultural export brand: National Farmers Federation throws weight behind MLA's True Aussie scheme," Anna Vidot, ABC Rural, April 15, 2015.
"Consumers are entitled to expect that prominent representations made on packaging are accurate without having to check for disclosures in the fine print." Rod Sims in, "Hey true blue: Farmers adopt Aus brand," Katie McRobert, The Land, April 15, 2015.
"If development of a recognised brand for Australian agriculture and its products can be established, then potentially markets have the opportunity to cement brand attributes in the minds of buyers that Australian produce is worth paying a premium for." David Thompson (Winner, John Ralph Essay Competition, Australian Farm Institute), November 2014.
"A strong national brand would build on our strengths and if executed well, the branding initiative could address some of the concerns within the industry about supermarket power, high costs, lack of differentiation and lack of recognition for farmers." David Thompson (Winner, John Ralph Essay Competition, Australian Farm Institute), November 2014.
"Not identifying the exceptional qualities of Australian agricultural production leaves producers slugging it out on the uneven playing field of global competition." Mathew Cawood (Fairfax), John Ralph Essay Competition, Australian Farm Institute, November 2014.
"A loud and clear Australian brand will create leverage with Woolworths and Coles who have a public proposition around supporting Australian farmers." Craig Davis, John Ralph Essay Competition, Australian Farm Institute), November 2014.
"One of the major barriers to establishing a unified Australian agriculture brand is the conflicting interests and agendas of the many stakeholders in Australian agriculture." David Thompson (Winner, John Ralph Essay Competition, Australian Farm Institute), November 2014.
"The national brand must be backed up by actions, in the case of food safety, just one fault has the potential to lose significant brand equity quickly." Mitchell Hughes, John Ralph Essay Competition, Australian Farm Institute, November 2014.
"...the problem lies with the idea of an all-encompassing brand for Australian agriculture. Not only are there stark differences between each sub-sector, the agricultural sector is not in a position to even evaluate an effective brand for one of these sectors until it knows the overall strategy which sits behind any branding decisions." Peter Elliot (AEGIC), John Ralph Essay Competition, Australian Farm Institute), November 2014.
"Australia must tread carefully in an international market, and consider the 'guilt by association' aspects that may be transferred to other products if they were to be associated with a product failure." Ruth Ahchow (EY), John Ralph Essay Competition, Australian Farm Institute), November 2014.
"There are two key challenges associated with the concept that have yet to be tackled. The first is to develop the concept to a point where the inherent qualities of Australian farm produce are identified and clearly communicated to consumers. This is a major challenge, because despite the views held by some that simply sticking an Australian label on products makes them inherently more desirable, this is not always the case and certainly will not be over the longer-term. As has been pointed out in previous posts, there are plenty of positive characteristics of Australian produce that are eminently marketable, but they do need to be packaged into a coherent campaign, and the question of the need for any brand to be associated with accreditation standards (as is the case with the UK Red Tractor brand) needs to be addressed. The second challenge, of course, is funding. A campaign would require sufficient and sustained funding to generate real value, and this immediately raises the question of who should pay. There are a number of different models that have been proposed, ranging from complete funding by industry to complete funding by government. In the longer-term, it is likely that industry will need to bear a significant share of the funding burden, which will mean extensve industry discussion and debate. That discussion will be made all the more difficult in the absence of any concrete examples of what Brand Australia might look like and how it would work." (Mick Keogh, 'Is Australia about to get a new lease of life,' Australian Farm Institute, October 2014).
If Australia's various state governments could be convinced to pool their resources and work cooperatively on the development of a single national brand for Australian agricultural and food products, there might be some chance over the longer term of establishing and maintaining a premium for Australian products. As things stand at present, the main outcome of the efforts by various state governments is market confusion. (Mick Keogh, 'Brand Australia in a Bad State', Australian Farm Institute, 2014)
Want to find more out more?
Refer to the following sources for further information and commentary on national branding.
- "Hey true blue: Farmers adopt Aus brand," Katie McRobert, FarmOnline, April, 15, 2015.
- "Searching for 'Brand Australia'", Matthew Cawood, The Land, February 28, 2015.
- "The John Ralph Essay 2014 - Innovative Ideas for Brand Agriculture", Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, November 13, 2014.
- "Building Brand Australia," Craig Davis, CraigDavisNow, November, 2014.
- "Ag urged to embrace 'brand Australia'", Ashley Walmsley, FarmOnline, August 6, 2014.
- "Australian agriculture needs a brand and a brand champion," Mick Keogh, Australian Farm Institute, November 28, 2013.
AUSTRALIAN MADE (1999)
TRUE AUSSIE (2015)
"It reflects MLA’s marketing to positively position Australian beef and lamb in overseas’ markets through country-of-origin marks which reinforce generic attributes such as Australia’s environment, production systems and food safety standards."
“We think this is a game-changer; Australian agriculture is already two-thirds export and this is where the growth is. The key is ensuring global consumers are confident their food has authentically been grown in Australia, which is what the True Aussie brand does so well.” (Simon Talbot, NFF)
"Brand Tasmanian had been forging the path for Tasmanian producers for more than a decade and would continue to be relevant even if the new branding was used... Brand Tasmania uses world renowned chef Tetsuya Wakuda to promote Tasmanian food in his restaurants and recently introduced three Japanese chefs and an Italian chef to Tasmanian produce." (ABC Rural, 2015).
BRAND SOUTH AUSTRALIA (2013)
"This is so much more than a logo. What we have devised is a completely new master brand for South Australia. Essentially it’s a complete design system which includes a brandmark, a colour palette, typeface, a graphic design system to unite our identity."