Australians turn to Australian Made during the pandemic

Research confirms Australians are buying locally during the pandemic.

Australians turn to Australian Made during the pandemic

New consumer research reveals that 89 per cent of Australians believe we should be producing more products locally.

The Roy Morgan study found that the key motivations to manufacture more products locally were to reduce Australia’s reliance on other countries (38 per cent), create jobs (26 per cent), support Australian business and industry (26 per cent), safeguard against vulnerable international supply chains (20 per cent) and strengthen the economy (16 per cent).

Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine said “The impact of COVID-19 on Australians is unprecedented in so many ways, not least of which is our shopping behaviour. More Australians are now organising delivery of products; doing online research prior to making a purchase; shopping online, both in stores they would usually visit and different stores. And, critically, since COVID-19 Australians have an ever greater preference for Australian Made products.”

Australian Made chief executive Ben Lazzaro said Australia’s over-reliance on imported products was highlighted by the pandemic.

“This research indicates that Australians are placing priority on manufacturing self-sufficiency and job creation along with a renewed appetite to address the imbalance between locally made and imported products, to ensure Australia’s long-term prosperity.”

To keep up with the increase in online shopping during the pandemic, Australian Made recently partnered with e-commerce marketplace eBay. 

eBay local managing director Tim MacKinnon said he was “really bullish” about the link, expecting more Australian entrepreneurs to emerge from the pandemic.

“People are already setting up home-based businesses to take advantage of online shopping.

“There’s a huge role we can play in helping to sell more Australian products overseas.”

A new ‘Australian Made on eBay’ section of the company’s platform was set up to capitalise on growing local interest in self-reliance.

Since April, eBay has tracked a 57 per cent annual increase in sales from Australian Made brands among its 11 million or so monthly unique visitors, smartcompany.com reported.

“There’s been this trend towards local provenance and having some connection to products; COVID and national emergencies tend to increase that desire,” Mr MacKinnon says.

“There’s something about humans that when we’re challenged by things, we like to find connections to things we know and trust.”

Over the five months to July, there was a 35 per cent increase in the number of certified Australian Made sellers eBay.

“We’ve decided to lean in more and really identify those sellers where the product is really made in Australia, which creates even more value for the Australian community,” Mr MacKinnon explains.

Australians rallied to defend Australia Made’s 1980s-designed green-and-gold kangaroo logo when a new logo was suggested.

The research found that since the start of the pandemic, 37 per cent of Australians are conducting more research online prior to purchasing products. Traffic to Australian Made’s website doubled between April to June compared to 2019, the average session duration increased by 29 per cent and total audience growth across all Australian Made’s social channels was up 467 per cent.

More of us are checking labelling, with 43 per cent of Australians now more likely to look for country of origin labels on products.

Mr Lazzaro expects a permanent shift towards locally produced products to come out of the pandemic.

Queensland manufacturer Paul Gripske is risking his business on that assumption. He’s developing an Australian-made lawnmower for the summer of 2021.

“The consumer, for the first time in years, has been asking, ‘Is this made in Australia? Can I get an Australian-made product?’” he told ABC’s The Money.

Mr Gripske says all he needs is government support – and industrial relations changes.

“Factories, to run the most efficiently, need to run seven days a week, 24 hours a day. That's what the best factories in the world do,” he says.

He says his workers are paid above the award, but he would like to run a night shift without having to pay penalty rates.

“Instantaneously that makes us so much more competitive.”

In the 1960s, manufacturing equated to 30 per cent of the Australian economy. It is now 5.5 per cent.

Andrew Liveris, special adviser to the National COVID-19 Commission, believes a new plan after COVID-19 is an opportunity for domestic manufacturing.

“All the PPE items that maybe were not available, everyone suddenly got very attentive to having them (made domestically),” he says.

“That really acutely brought into focus the notion of manufacturing and manufacturing capabilities.”

He points out that Australia rates 87th on global rankings of economic complexity, which rate the diversity of a nation's exports.

“For a country that is a first world country to have such a low economic complexity economy, it needs to be remedied,” Mr Liveris says.

He says governments need to ensure citizens have access to basics such as healthcare, energy, defence, technology, food, and water.

He says Australia has not commercialised its excellent research because of our small population.

“The internet has changed all that … we are connected to the world through technology these days, and that means we can have new opportunities to scale, in areas we could not scale before.”

He says top-down control must be balanced with bottom-up innovation.

“We are a capitalist country, we are a free-market-driven country … we want researchers and entrepreneurs to come out of that,” he says.

“But some of these areas have long cycles of investment, and to get long-cycle investment I need to have some planning and policies in place.”

Diversifying the workforce and focusing on technology, according to Mr Liveris, could also help Australia to unlock manufacturing potential.

“We've morphed into this place called 'new collar'. It's not white or blue collar, it's new collar,” he says.

“New-collar workers are very technology proficient with the human–machine interface.”

This includes interpreting data, learning to understand trends, and adding value to basic materials.

Mr Liveris says another challenge facing Australian manufacturing is too much red tape.

“We have too many layers of government trying to do the same thing over and over. If you try to get something approved, you have to go through another set of approvals,” he says.

“We've got to figure a way to actually harmonise the investment community's attempts to invest in certain sectors.”

Mr Gripske says companies that invest in research and development should be rewarded.

“If we successfully bring this product to market, then we should get a bonus for doing it,” he says.

Mr Liveris, an IBM board member who has advised US governments, says the pandemic is an Australian Made moment.

“If there is a time ever to lay out a future vision for our country, I think that time is imminent.”

Have you been buying more locally produced goods during the pandemic? Should there be more government support for local manufacturers?

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    COMMENTS

    To make a comment, please register or login
    panos
    15th Sep 2020
    4:10pm
    Yep good old Australian Made with local and imported ingredients....

    Yep the packaging, tin is Australian Made... LOL
    ozirules
    15th Sep 2020
    5:00pm
    the tin is probably made overseas too...maybe the Aussie ingredient is the gas which was sold to the foreign company cheap to fuel their production.
    Returned Serviceman..
    15th Sep 2020
    7:07pm
    Just like the Bacon in Coles made in Australia with 10% Australian product. What is the 10% the packaging.
    Pass the Ductape
    15th Sep 2020
    4:33pm
    It's one thing to want to buy Australian made goods, but it's another to find them!

    I always try to buy Australian, but when you ask a shop assistant if they stock Australian made goods they look at you with a sorry look on their face and tell you - '"Everything is made in China these days!"

    And why is that I wonder - well apparently we told all our Australian manufacturers we wanted to pay less for our purchases and the only way the manufacturer could do this was to use cheaper labour and as our local labour was too dear, off to China we shall go!

    I can't recall anyone I know who said that to any manufacturer though - and no manufacturer asked me....if they had I could have warned them what would occur.

    Be that as it may, this solution to cheaper pricing might have worked in the true sense, if the manufacturers hadn't pocketed a lot of extra cash due to the cheaper labour and passed all the savings on to Aussie customers instead of conning the poor old Aussie purchaser into believing he was getting a good deal, but they didn't!

    Yes, we did get a reduction in price, but we also got a product that wasn't worth any more than what was paid for it.... I.E Low price equals low quality no matter who makes it! The old story - you don't get something for nothing.

    The quality of Chinese made products is so poor I wonder why we bother with the stuff....better to throw what you bought straight into the retailers rubbish bin after you buy it - at least it'll save you time and effort having to cart it home and place in your own bin.
    Greg
    15th Sep 2020
    5:00pm
    "The quality of Chinese made products is so poor I wonder why we bother with the stuff"

    You're making a generalisation there, not everything is poor quality. There's a multitude of electronics that are extremely well made, some of the cheap Kmart type clothes are made in factories that make expensive brand named clothes like Polo Ralph Lauren

    And people don't actually tell the manufactures they want cheaper goods, the manufacturers look for a cheaper place to produce goods to cut costs and in some cases pass on some of the cost reductions.

    Also, I'd mention this fascination everyone has with "cheap China" goods - there is a vast array of goods now made in Taiwan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Vietnam, etc...it's not all just China now.
    ozirules
    15th Sep 2020
    5:10pm
    you are right Greg....I used to only need a knowledge of 'Chinglish' to assemble foreign bought stuff but now I need to know Turklish, Japlish and all the other lishes which try my patience when trying to understand the instructions. I got so pissed off with the instructions for a Turkish built Bosch washing machine that I sent them back to their customer support and told them the only possible way I could see of utilising them was to fold them into a tight roll and use them as a suppository and would they get their research and development team to try it out and report back.
    Pass the Ductape
    16th Sep 2020
    6:48am
    Hi Greg - I've never bought anything made in China (electronically or otherwise) that has come up to standard and worth the money I've paid for it. The same was true for Japanese products for a great many years after the war - until they got the message.

    Perhaps the real problem lies in the fact that people today seem more than happy to accept substandard work as a normal part of existence in a throw away society where money is far to easy to come by.
    Franky
    16th Sep 2020
    1:08pm
    You are generalizing with regards to quality of Chinese goods. They have come a long way, and I have purchased some excellent products. Of course in all cases there are bad apples.
    Mariner
    15th Sep 2020
    4:34pm
    Where we live we buy a lot of frozen vegies, always looking for Aussie ones as there are a lot of "Belgian" ones in shops. Finally found a jar of garlic at the supermarket that is produced in Aussie. Was more than twice the price but well worth it after cooking with it. Unfortunately not available everywhere.
    Mary
    15th Sep 2020
    4:42pm
    It bugs me that manufacturers can hide behind 'imported ingredients". They should have to say what country the ingredients are from. Probably China??
    Mary
    15th Sep 2020
    4:43pm
    I don't know why my comment was posted twice. I only clicked on comment once.
    Alan
    15th Sep 2020
    7:03pm
    That double posting has been a problem for ages on this site.
    Mariner
    15th Sep 2020
    8:56pm
    Have a bit of patience and it will go thru. If you see it twice, remove one of them, simple!
    Mary
    15th Sep 2020
    4:42pm
    It bugs me that manufacturers can hide behind 'imported ingredients". They should have to say what country the ingredients are from. Probably China??
    Indy_Lopos
    15th Sep 2020
    6:48pm
    3 points I wish to make here:
    1. More people are trying to check where a product is manufactured before choosing to buy. This info needs to be more visible, especially for online purchases, so people can make a more informed choice.
    2. If there is a reasonably priced alternative that is made in Australia, more people are now choosing the one made in Australia. BUT we do need more Australian made alternatives. Often the overseas products are only cheaper because some countries cut corners with safety and/or hygiene or employ slave labour.
    3. Unfortunately, often the only product available on our retail shelves(especially Bunnings) is Made in China. Because of the bullying tactics that China is employing against Ozzie farmers, more people are trying to avoid buying anything Made in China. The distributors who supply retailers should try to make more alternatives available, instead of concentrating on products made in P. R. C.
    Alan
    15th Sep 2020
    7:10pm
    I recently had to buy a roll of alfoil. I tried Coles and Woolies and all of it was made in China. This included the expensive brands, the cheap supermarket brand and even the "green" recycled variety was also from China.

    Out of curiosity I checked the gladwrap and the sandwich bags as they are right next to the alfoil. I could not find anything made in Australia.

    I would have bought anything except China by this stage but I wasn't given a choice. The whole lot was from China. I detest giving my money to them.
    floss
    15th Sep 2020
    7:10pm
    So Morrison you have sold Australia so lets see how good you are in buying it back,you can rest assured it will never happen under his Government.
    Mariner
    15th Sep 2020
    8:59pm
    Your Labor bias comes thru again, floss - give it a rest as it has nothing to do with the topic. Are you paid for advertising the ALP? You are just too damn consistent.
    Returned Serviceman..
    15th Sep 2020
    7:14pm
    Why are we importing food when we produce the best in the world, oh yea it is to boost the profits. Do I remember right that one of the major supermarkets where importing frozen bread from Ireland and advertising it as Australian made until Jeff Kennet called them out on it.
    Alan
    15th Sep 2020
    7:17pm
    Many months ago I happened to be in the supermarket when one of the staff was putting out bags of 6 rolls. I took one and it was wet. I asked her if it had been frozen and she said yes.

    I wonder how long it had been frozen?
    Mariner
    15th Sep 2020
    9:04pm
    Alan - it is always depending where you live. I lived on an Australian island for many years and when we got fresh bread from the mainland, we separated it and put it in the freezer. Was as good as fresh when we took it out. Luxury when you have a hot bread shop handy.
    franky
    15th Sep 2020
    9:37pm
    I definitely would enjoy buying Made in Australia ... but I just couldn’t find much of Aussie made ... particularly in Bunnings .. one thing I noticed though it states Australian owned then somewhere in the packaging you will find Made in China ... hahaha
    Franky
    16th Sep 2020
    1:07pm
    I must be in the 11% as I haven't changed my buying habits. When it comes to fresh produce, yes, I have always bought as local as possible. Same goes for general food stuffs. But when it comes to other goods I buy where I get either the best service of the best price - this depends on the product bought. Unfortunately I have noticed that many local shops have lowered their service standards, recently went into JB HiFi to buy a mobile phone, only to be told to go on the website as they couldn't tell me anything about the one I was interested in. Needless to say I bought elsewhere.


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