Consumer Confusion

By Brian Tessmann, QDO President

There is a plethora of voices in the media these days trying to influence consumers in their buying choices. Just in the last few weeks I have seen conflicting views on television where one show says eating a certain food is beneficial for your health while another show says the opposite. Some media sources advocate for one-production systems saying a small, raw, and organic or cottage-type production system is best for the environment only to see other experts emerge with opposite views. On top of this, the thinking consumer is concerned about what effect their purchase has on farming families, regional communities and the economy at large.

Many members of the industry claim that all consumers want is the cheapest product, but while this may be the main purchasing consideration for some, there are many for whom the type of considerations above mean more than saving what may be just a few cents on their weekly shopping. One clear example of this has been the response of consumers to the buy-branded milk campaign which has lifted sales for a number of smaller local based brands by as much as 70%. What these discerning consumers need from the industry and the government is factual, reliable and easy-to-understand information right there on the product. This is of course exactly what the proposed sustainable milk mark is designed to do by informing consumers where the milk comes from and whether the farmer received a regionally sustainable return. The campaign has the opportunity to be very valuable to Queensland farmers if only enough consumers are willing to buy local milk and support growing dairy farms in our regional communities. However if the consumers don’t care as some say, then it will not be worth much at all.