REGIONAL areas will become ghost towns if Australians don’t support Australian producers, according to Dick Smith.
The founder of Dick Smith Electronics and Dick Smith Foods said at the Henty Machinery Field Days yesterday that Australians were destroying local producers by buying foreign brands for a lower price.
“If you don’t support Australian farmers these towns will all be boarded up,” he said. “There will be no one working at all.
“These places will become ghost towns.
“If you buy everything on price, there is no way any Australian farmer will stay in business.
“It’s really strange that Australians don’t support the Australian product, I can’t work out why.”
The turnover for Dick Smith Foods, which sells Australian-made and owned foods, has dropped from $80 million to $8 million a year.
Mr Smith said he would spend $1 million on marketing to relaunch the label as “Dick Smith Magnificent Australian Grown Foods”’ and plans to have it on the shelves by late this year.
Mr Smith said the big supermarkets had told him people would not spend 20 cents more than they had to, but he would ignore that advice and re-launch his brand.
He said he would give up if he was unsuccessful after a year.
Mr Smith said when seeking out producers yesterday that he was interested in selling Beechworth Honey and other local products under the new Dick Smith label.
He said he would visit Cowra today to buy a beetroot crop that was about to be ploughed in because international producers were selling below cost.
He said it was “just criminal” that farmers were ripping up paddocks because they couldn’t sell produce.
If big supermarkets didn’t sell the Cowra beetroot, he would turn to Flight Centre and Dymocks books to do so.
He said he believed the Australian priorities were “out of whack” with people willing to buy premium dog food but not willing to spend 1.7 cents more in a dollar for quality Australian food for themselves.
“If we spend $2 billion on TV games and $6 billion on pet food, it seems remarkable that we can’t get Australians to pay a tiny bit more for Australian food,” he said.