How a Grassroots Movement is Challenging Supermarkets with Transparent Pricing

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Amid mounting concerns about the fairness and transparency of Australia’s food supply chain, the ongoing Senate inquiry into supermarket pricing practices underscores the pressing need for reform. Launched amidst escalating worries about the cost of living and allegations of price gouging, the inquiry aims to scrutinise profit margins and pricing practices within the supermarket sector.

Box Divvy, a grassroots movement, leads the charge for pricing transparency in the food industry. With some 12,000 members and 250 hubs run by everyday individuals, their unique model prioritises fair compensation for farmers, offering their members produce up to 30% cheaper than supermarkets. By paying farmers 60 cents for every retail dollar earned, Box Divvy sets a new standard for the industry.

Box Divvy’s efficient distribution system results in lower operating costs, allowing them to pass savings on to members. Additionally, they disclose prices paid to growers and suppliers for every product, along with the supplier’s name for verification. This commitment to transparency is reshaping the conversation on fresh produce accessibility in Australia, challenging the major supermarket chains and paving the way for a fairer food system.

Anton van den Berg, co-founder of Box Divvy, emphasises the urgent need for change: “We must confront the true cost of squeezing farmers and limiting consumers’ access to fresh food. Supermarkets have long dictated prices, leaving both farmers and consumers vulnerable. Australians are awakening to this reality. We believe that Box Divvy is the only food supplier in Australia with this level of transparency. However, we are calling on other retailers – including supermarkets – to follow our example. It’s time for a fundamental shift towards fairness and sustainability in our food system.”

Box Divvy is witnessing increasing interest in their model because of the erosion of consumer trust in the retail sector. Fluctuating prices, hidden tactics, and a lack of transparency have led consumers to seek alternatives. Box Divvy stands out by offering transparent pricing, displaying prices per kilogram for all weight-based products, which builds trust and empowers consumers to make informed decisions. Moreover, rising living costs and the urgency to address climate change are driving more people towards Box Divvy.

Rozanna Lee operates a thriving Box Divvy Hub in Chatswood, catering to the needs of up to 50 families. “I steer clear of supermarket produce altogether. My commitment to Box Divvy stems from a desire for excellent quality fruit and vegetables and a deep-seated concern for environmental sustainability and fair compensation for Australian farmers.”

The nation’s farmers, often hailed as the backbone of the agricultural sector, face an uphill battle against mounting pressures from supermarket giants. As profit margins shrink and production costs rise, many find themselves teetering on the edge of viability. For small-scale and family-run operations, in particular, the prospect of survival becomes increasingly precarious.

“Big supermarkets often pay farmers too little for their products, barely enough to cover the costs of growing them. It would be better if more farmers stood up against these unfair prices, but they worry about selling enough for the whole year,” Mark Kay, a farmer and agent for farmers, explains. “However, there’s hope with programs like Box Divvy. They negotiate fair prices and appreciate the hard work we farmers put into our crops.”

Beyond the immediate repercussions on individual livelihoods, the erosion of farming communities would have far-reaching consequences for Australian consumers.

“In our rush for convenience and affordability, we risk sacrificing the very foundation of our food system,” warns Anton. “We cannot afford to overlook the essential role that farmers play in nourishing our nation. Their resilience and dedication deserve our utmost respect and support.”

As the Australian Senate inquiry into supermarket pricing unfolds, Box Divvy argues for greater transparency and accountability in the food industry.

“The most effective way of ensuring fair pay for farmers is to force supermarkets to show how little they are currently paying them against how much they are charging their shoppers. Supermarkets have the resources and the obligation to offer transparent pricing. The question remains: why haven’t they?” finished Anton.

Box Divvy currently operates in NSW and ACT with a view to expanding nationally.

About Box Divvy

Box Divvy is an innovative platform that connects communities with farmers and food producers to provide market-fresh, locally and Australian-grown, seasonal fruit, vegetables and groceries helping you cook and eat better for less. Box Divvy is a viable alternative to supermarkets, focusing on fresh food and reducing our dependence on ultra processed, discretionary foods. It currently operates over 250 Food Hubs with some 12,000 members across NSW and the ACT. Most Hubs are at capacity, so there are always opportunities to set up and run your own Hub. If someone has 4-5 hours a week to spare, they can manage a Food Hub from home and earn income doing so. This side-gig presents an ideal way for individuals to incorporate a micro business into their lifestyle. While larger hubs may require a greater time commitment, the benefits are also greater. By launching a Food Hub, individuals play a vital role in fostering community and providing a valuable service where members can save money while supporting local farmers.

Come and unsupermarket with Box Divvy.

Visit www.boxdivvy.com to learn more.

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www.nativeshop.com.au

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First published in 2003, Eco Voice is your go-to publication for sustainability news in Australia. Eco Voice prides itself as an independent news platform with a clear focus on sustainability, with articles coming from a diverse range of contributors – all levels of government, corporations, not-for-profits, community groups, small to medium sized businesses, universities, research organisations, together with input from international sources. Eco Voice values community, conservation and commerce. Eco Voice is a media partner of the prestigious Australian Banksia Sustainability Awards – The Peak Sustainability Awards.