Over the past few decades, Australian businesses have been shut down or sold off in droves.
Jobs and businesses that were once Aussie owned are slowly but surely slipping out of our hands and into the pockets of international giants.
Only a small number of local brands have been able to keep their head above water in this competitive market. As such, the small victories are cause for celebration.
The Violet Crumble bar, previously owned by South Australian company Rowntree Hoadley, came full circle and returned to Aussie ownership this week.
Swiss food giant Nestlé has owned the Aussie brand since 1985. But after some negotiations and a grant from the South Australian government, family-owned company Robern Menz was able to retrieve the business.
The buy-back has created 30 new jobs at the factory in Adelaide’s east.
Menz’s CEO, Phil Sims said the move would ‘bring one of Australia’s most iconic and favourite snacks back to Australian ownership.’
No doubt, this is a positive step forward. But there is no way to sugar-coat the dismal success rate of most Aussie businesses and suppliers.
You might not know that Peter’s ice cream was sold to European food giant R&R in 2014.
Or that Arnott’s, which came from humble beginnings in Newcastle, was sold to US food giant Campbell Soup Company in 1997.
Vegemite is Australian though, right?
Even the quintessential Australian spread, Vegemite, hasn’t been Australian owned since 1935.
American multinational company Mondelez had control of the brand until last year, when Melbourne-owned business Bega Cheese agreed to buy it back in a deal worth AU$460 million.
After almost 80 years, Vegemite was moved back into Australian hands along with previously Aussie-owned peanut butter spreads, in an effort to recover nationally treasured brands. As stated by Bega’s executive chairman, Barry Irvin:
‘We want our peanut butter and Vegemite to be hyper local — that’s what the public wants and deserves.’
Despite this recovery effort, Dick Smith, whose own franchise went under in 2016, believes the problem is only going to get worse.
When speaking about US online retailer Amazon, Smith argued that the rise of international competitors would ‘strangle the big businesses and destroy them’, resulting in lost jobs.
‘They are incredibly cunning, the greed is unlimited, and they are in control of everything they are doing,’ Smith observed.
So as Aussie brands continue to fall like dominos under foreign control, there’s no doubt that if we don’t keep our guard up, the Aussie-owned kangaroo stamp too, could become a thing of the past.