Agribusiness buzz in brief

Agribusiness buzz in brief

Agribusiness
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A quick look at who and what have been making news in around the traps in agribusiness

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Food rush lifts trust in Woolies

As the coronavirus pandemic sent Australians rushing to stock up on pantry lines and home improvement materials, Bunnings and Woolworths soared in reputation to rate as our most trusted brands

A Roy Morgan consumer survey last month found Australians in COVID-19 lockdown rated the two retailers first and second with Qantas third.

Roy Morgan chief executive officer Michele Levine said despite accusations of supermarket price gouging, delivery problems and supply chain delays, Woolworths rode the storm best, being on the front foot with extended shopping hours, dedicated time slots for seniors and employing extra staff.

Also among the top 10 most trusted brands were retail rivals Aldi (4) and Coles (8), NRMA, the ABC, Australia Post and banks Bendigo and Commonwealth.

Social network Facebook was Australia's most distrusted brand during April.

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Sold `a pup' by scammers

Australians have lost nearly $300,000 to puppy marketing scams as scammers increase their efforts to target those looking for companion animals during social isolation.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's Scamwatch has reported puppy scams running at almost five times the normal rate, with losses this year set to exceed the 2019 total of $360,000.

Scamwatch has received more than 2000 reports relating to various different COVID-19 scams and reported losses exceeding $700,000.

"People stuck at home are going online to buy a pet to help them get through the loneliness," said ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard.

Scammers set up fake websites or ads on online classifieds and via social media pretending to sell sought-after dog breeds, taking advantage of the buyers can not travel to see the puppy in person.

They usually ask for up-front payments via money transfer to pay for the pet and transport, usually also finding new ways to ask for more money after taking an initial deposit.

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Rex mandates masks

Passengers flying with Regional Express will be required to wear face masks from the moment they arrive at an airport check-in counter from June 1.

The country airline has mandated masks be worn throughout flights, on the airport tarmac and during bus transfers.

Rex already enforces body temperature testing of passengers and employees to minimise the risk of spreading coronavirus and has spaced seating allocations where possible to enable some degree of social distancing.

"We need to be vigilant now more than ever to ensure we prevent a second wave of infections causing untold damage and misery in all communities," said Rex national airports manager David Brooksby.

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Hot potato deal

One of Australia's biggest potato producers Mitolo Family Farms is set to buy Thomas Foods International's fresh potato business.

Mitolo Group, founded in 1972, grows and packs potatoes and onions in South Australia's Riverland and Adelaide Plains, the NSW Riverina and Victorian Mallee.

The deal between the two South Australian family companies is subject to approval by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

TFI bought into the potato sector in 2013, acquiring Mondello Farms from administrators and growing that business under its fresh produce division to include a substantial export trade for potatoes and other produce.

TFI is selling to focus resources on its big meat business, including the rebuilding of its Murray Bridge abattoir, destroyed by fire in 2018.

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Kraft vs Bega continues

Bega Cheese's labelling war with former peanut butter giant, Kraft Heinze, is not over yet, despite a Federal Court ruling in April in favour of the Australian dairy and spreads company.

Kraft, which sold its peanut butter, Vegemite and Zoosh sauces business to Bega in 2017, has filed an application to appeal against the Federal Court decision backing Bega's use of the trademark yellow lids and labelling on its jars which previously carried the Kraft brand.

The dispute began after Bega's $460 million purchase of the Mondelez Australia and New Zealand business, which it argued included branding associated with Australia's biggest selling peanut butter range.

Kraft's name on the jars was replaced with its own, incurring the wrath of Kraft Heinz, which still sells peanut butter overseas and may potentially return to the Australian market.

Bega also has a long running tussle with Fonterra over its use of its brand, once used by Fonterra Australia's predecessor, Bonlac, which had contracts to pack and sell Bega Cheese.

Fonterra claims a licensing deal signed in 2002 gives it commercial rights to the red Bega logo used on peanut butter jars.

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New trucking boss

South Australian trucking operator David Smith is the new chairman of the Australian Trucking Association.

Mr Smith is managing director of D&S Smith Haulage and has worked in the transport industry for more than 40 years as a driver, business owner and industry leader through his involvement in associations and committees.

He has been on the ATA board since 2016, is also Livestock and Rural Transporters Association of South Australia president, and a former president of the Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association.

He replaces Geoff Crouch who held the top job at ATA for three years.

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APAL in produce safety centre 

The Fresh Produce Safety Centre Australia and New Zealand has welcomed Apple and Pear Australia Limited as a supporter.

FPSC chairman Michael Worthington said in current difficult times it was vitally important the horticultural produce industry redoubled its commitment to the safety of fresh produce.

"As the peak industry body representing apple and pear growers and their $600 million industry and owner of the Pink Lady brand in 100 countries, APAL has demonstrated its leadership in food safety through supporting the FPSC," Mr Worthington said.

Other FPSC supporters range from Produce Marketing Association Australia-New Zealand, Coles Supermarkets and Metcash, to Ausveg, Zespri International and Symbio Laboratories.

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The story Agribusiness buzz in brief first appeared on Farm Online.

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