Aussie farmers have always been innovators. Ever since 1876, when South Australian wheat farmer, Richard Smith developed the stump jump plough, our farmers have been world leaders in developing ever more efficient ways of extracting the best from our dry land and competing for shelf space around the world.
So it's great to see a group of farmers in the New South Wales town of Orange launching a new online retail brand, Totally Local, to bring produce direct from farm to consumer. The online brand is an extension of a bricks and mortar retail outlet that's operated in Orange for some time. It's a fightback of sorts. The sort of innovative backlash that you'd expect against the competitive pressures of imported produce and constantly being screwed by large retailers and middlemen from a culture used to prevailing in the harshest environments.
All they promise is food 'harvested for taste rather than transport', a less than subtle reference to the long-term cold storage techniques employed by the major retail groups and transport companies to keep food 'fresh'. Totally Local expresses a simple vision: 'to have people discover the experience of eating, drinking and enjoying the best local food and wine'.
Don't be surprised if this brand becomes a franchise. It resonates with Gray Advertising's annual 'Eye on Australia' research, which has shown a consumer retreat to community and local brands over recent years. I referred in an earlier blog to the popularity of TV home and garden shows, the upswing in spending on home entertainment systems and so on. The affinity with local brands is part of a greater search for control over life and connection with community.
That's why I think Totally Local is a brand for the times. I hope it goes well for these innovative farmers.