But Smith warns such a turnaround in consumer sentiment may not be long lasting.
He recalls a decade ago when launching Dick Smith Foods with great fanfare - and at the same time as many Australian local manufacturers were closing - that there was a rush to buy Australian. His sales turnover instantly hit $80m a year.
But after a few years it fell to just $8m, as consumers lost their patriotism and turned once again to cheaper imported food on the supermarkets’ shelves. Now, with the present buy-Australian and buy-local feeling, turnover is once again at $20m and rising.
“I agree we have seen a swing back to supporting Australian food, and the supermarkets are sensibly responding,” says Smith.
“But I think it will be very hard for SPC in the long term; whether we like it or not, most people will always drift back to buying the cheapest food, despite what they say in the surveys about supporting Australian-grown and made products and being prepared to pay more.”If the SPC deal with Woolworths means their products will only be available at that supermarket, then they've instantly lost half their potential local market for their remarkably limited range.
Buy local bearing fruit