Buying Australian, a personal story (Protectionism begins with P/eas)

peas[Contributed article from an APP member:]

This is a personal story, but one that has implications for Australia as a whole.

Recently I was shopping at my local supermarket and bought some cheap peas; they were a homebrand product which I had never seen before. Thinking “peas are peas, there can’t be much difference” I grabbed a packet.

As it turned out, they tasted disgusting. Who would have thought that the taste of plain peas could have been so radically different? Obviously, not me. That was my first mistake. It was a classic example of false economy: Save a dollar by buying cheap peas, then lose several dollars because they had to be thrown out.

However, before throwing the horrible-tasting peas in the bin, I had a look at the packet. They were made in the United Kingdom. What the?!?! Why on earth are we importing peas into Australia from Europe? Don’t we have farms growing them here? Being a regular buyer of Birds Eye peas, grown in Australia, I guess I had assumed that all the other peas were being grown in Australia as well. That was my second mistake.

Upon my return to the supermarket, I found that the UK peas had disappeared from the shelves (hmmm, maybe I wasn’t the only one who thought they tasted awful). However, I had a look through the other packets of peas on display, to find out where they came from. To my surprise, the vast majority of them came from overseas.

Here is the list of peas that were available (and where they came from):
Birds Eye (Australia)
Heinz (New Zealand)
Logan (New Zealand)
Macro organic (New Zealand)
McCain (New Zealand)
Woolworths homebrand (USA)
Woolworths homebrand select (New Zealand)

So, out of all those, there was only one brand which was using peas grown in Australia: good old Birds Eye. The Birds Eye peas not only taste nice (much better than the imported ones I had bought), but buying them helps Australian farmers as well.

Whilst I have not looked through the entirety of the thousands of products on the supermarket’s shelves, a brief survey of various products shows that there are a lot of items that we are importing from overseas, including some product lines that you would expect to be predominantly Australian.

I hate to think of how much of the supermarket trade is based upon foreign goods, to the detriment of the Australian economy. No wonder there are so many Australians out of work, so many Australian farmers that are struggling, and so many Australian businesses that have shut down.

Surely it makes sense to have better protection for Australian products, like we used to have, to make sure that our workers have jobs, our farmers have stability, and our businesses keep on going. If the big political parties won’t do it, then maybe it’s time to give someone else a go.

In the meantime, I suggest that everyone checks what country their purchases are made in. This can be a big ask for busy people, but as most shoppers are creatures of habit, usually buying the same items week after week, I suggest to just check out a few items each time, find some good Australian products and stick to those.

After all, if we Australians don’t look after Australia, then who will?


  1. New zealand peas are from asia and repackaged to get around Aus labeling laws!!

  2. Sweet pea says

    Peas & Gravy …. High time we DERAILED THE GRAVY TRAIN !!!!

  3. I find it amusing that all the New Right economic rationalists continually condemn the idea of a sensible system of moderate tariffs yet scream to a blue fit about the need for a ‘level playing field’. When one considers our local producers and workers cannot hope to compete in the area of wages or material/ production costs, surely a local tariff which would present two or more products to the market at a comparable cost is creating a level playing field? The consumer can then look at the products and base their purchase decision on country of origin (with all the environmental and health impacts associated with that information) and also the quality of the item. Sensible tariffs is the sensible solution.

  4. We all knew this,it has been going on for a long time now. People need 12% Super now, which is not going to do anything drastic to their funds, funds that a government deemed we would be able to live off at retirement. To raise to 12% is because once again their schemes fail because of greed. I can only see this as another destruction of business. Think about it. As you can see, farmers are struggling, now add another 3% to an employees wage. Of course the big supermarkets will cope because food is essential and they will just raise their prices. In essense we will be paying for this super rise and be worse off once again. Small business won’t be able to cope with the extra expense so will close doors. People who are already struggling will have to do away with some things when it comes to small business because they will have to raise their prices and people will simply not be able to afford it. The only one winning out of every single corrupt lie of a scheme are the polititians themselves. From family courts to corrupt foreign trade agreements. Our country would be much better off to stay away from foreign because we already have everything we need here.

  5. The g Factor says

    With Windsor Farms going bust and more local processors likely to follow we may not be able to buy any food packaged in Australia shortly. All we can do is look out for products shown as produced in this country and buy them. I can’t see any government – Labor or Liberal – doing anything to protect our local food industry. Meanwhile our foreign debt rises and we bleed billions as interest and profits go overseas.

  6. Are you aware that many of the vegies supposedly supplied from NZ are actually imported into NZ from China and merely reprocessed/packaged?

  7. Australian Values says

    Thank you for taking the time and effort to report this and inform us all. I am of the opinion we should reward food producers who support our local market with a new “Australian Made” like logo. This new one should be called Australian Grown, and should have a prideful position on the front of food packaging. I also believe food from overseas markets, which directly competes with an Australian product, should have a special levy applied to it so as to make it less appealing for the product to be undercutting our locally produced products.

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