QLD coal seam gas producers could pay more under new govt

The humiliating defeat of Anna Bligh and her Queensland Labor party by the Liberal National Party could have big impacts for coal seam gas producers who want to explore on farming land.

As part of its campaign, Campbell Newman’s LNP party promised to compensate those impacted by mining, including farmers, in a “full and fair” way, which would include the company paying any legal costs, as well as compensation for loss of future development opportunities, The Financial Review reports.

Companies would also be required to spend time negotiating with resource companies, and CSG producers may be forced to make their contracts with landowners available to the public.

There are currently almost $50 billion worth of CSG projects under construction in Queensland, mostly owned by companies including Santos, Origin Energy and BG Group.

However MP Bob Katter doesn’t believe the LNP will behave any differently towards CSG than Labor did, warning Queenslanders they would soon find out ‘they voted in a similar animal’ to Labor, singling out issues such as growing community opposition to coal seam gas mining.”

‘The majority of things they are angry about they will face under a Liberal government with a bigger majority,’ he said.

Are you a Queensland farmer facing possible CSG exploration or drilling? How do you think the LNP government will be different?

Supermarket price wars will only get worse

We know food companies are too scared to criticise Coles and Woolworths at the Senate Inquiry into the anti-competitive practices by the major supermarkets.

We know that businesses and farmers are being pushed out of work by what is described as Australian food producer Dick Smith as “extreme capitalism.’

Now Coles is launching a program which many companies say is just another way it is wielding its power over them.

Adele Ferguson reports for The Sydney Morning Herald on how the new systems being put in place by the major supermarkets will continue to damage the sector.

If there is one message to come out of the fierce price war between Coles and Woolworths it is that life will get a lot tougher for their suppliers as the supermarket giants face the spectre of lower earnings growth and a potential de-rating of the sector.

Coles has introduced a program called ARC (Active Retailer Collaboration) to identify possible efficiency gains, potential cost reductions and data sharing for an upfront fee.

More than 200 suppliers have signed up to ARC agreements, but a number of them are complaining the program is anything but collaborative and is being used as a tactic to screw them further on prices. With Coles and Woolworths dominating the grocery industry with more than 70 per cent of market share, suppliers have little option but to put up or shut up.

The brutal reality is, in the past year, the food and liquor discounting between Coles and Woolworths – and more lately Metcash – has never been as ferocious and the cries from suppliers never louder.

It has refocused the debate on the concentration of Australia’s grocery industry and the long-term toll it is having on Australian suppliers.”

To read the full article, click here.

 

UK bakery fighting “fat tax”

The “fat tax” imposed on foods high in saturated fat is being fought by the biggest bakery chain in Britain, who say taxing the sausage rolls and pasties it bakes in store is unfair.

Greggs bakery will take the Chancellor George Osborne’s decision to impose the Value Added Tax (VAT) on its hot products to court in the next six weeks.

The bakery chain, which has 1500 stores across the UK, has lost £30 million value in its shared after being reclassified as hot food.

Hot food is subject to the VAT, while cold food is not, and chief executive Ken McMeikan told Sky News the change is unreasonable.

“The consumer needs help in making their money go as far possible, not to see an increased tax on something they didn’t have to pay tax on previously,” he said.

Osborne released his Budget last week, which included changes to certain loopholes which allowed some foods to be exempt from the tax.

“At present soft drinks and sports drinks are charged VAT, sports nutrition drinks are not,” he said.

‘Hot takeaway food on high streets has been charged VAT for more than 20 years, but some new hot takeaway products in supermarkets are not.’

Greggs argument is that while it bakes its sausage rolls in-store, it does not make any effort to keep them warm once they’re removed, so they should not be classified as hot food.

McMeikan argues the changes were made without consultation with businesses, and he will meet with government representatives next week to discuss the issues.

‘We will be fighting this all the way,’ he said.

‘At a time when the consumer is under enormous pressure and at a torrid time for the high street, this felt like a tax measure that has been ill thought through and the timing could not be worse.’

It’s no wonder Greggs is planning to argue the tax on its ‘hot foods,’ as the company sells two million sausage rolls alone every week.

Greggs and the National Association of Master Bakers, who have collaborated to launch a legal bid against the decision, will have six weeks to take the matter to court.

When the “fat tax,” was first implemented in Denmark in October last year, Prime Minister David Cameron.announced that the UK was considering introducing a similar measure.

It has also been suggested as a possible way to improve health and nutrition in Australia, among other countries.

Some Australian doctors also want warning labels on energy drinks, while a US study found a tax on sugary drinks could save 26 000 lives per year.

Duncan Hines recalls two cake mixes over undeclared allergens

Two variations of cupcake mixes have been recalled over undeclared allergens in the product.

Duncan Hines is recalling its Moist Deluxe Devil’s Food Cupcakes mix in 255g red cardboard boxes, with all ‘best before’ dates, as it contains tree nuts.

The Moist Deluxe Confetti Cupcakes mix in 255g red cardboard box from the same company with all ‘best before’ dates is found to contain tree nuts and milk.

The products of concern have been sold at Woolworths, Food for Less and Flemings supermarkets in throughout the country.

The allergens, which can cause illness for some people, did not have the required declarations on the packets.

Anyone who is allergic or intolerant to milk products or tree nuts have been advised not to consume the product and return it to the store where it was purchased for a full refund.

Worker loses finger, food manufacturer fined $60 000

Food manufacturer Healthy Snacks Australia has been fined $60 000 after an employee had a finger partially severed by a machine.

The Australian food producer plead guilty in the Moorabbin Magistrates’ Court this week to one count of failing to provide a safe system of work and proper instruction, training and supervision.

The worker had crawled under a machine that was used to manufacture and pack health bars, to clean its rollers.

The court heard that crawling under the machine to remove the guarding was common practise in the factory.

During the time the worker was cleaning the machine, it would remain on so that the rollers could be cleaned.

But on 29 June 2010, when the worker was performing the task, the cloth she was using became stuck and as she tried to pull it out, her other hand, which was resting on the machine so she could balance herself, became stuck between the rollers.

The moving machinery severed part of her middle finger.

The investigation by WorkSafe determined that Healthy Snacks Australia failed to undertake any risk assessment associated with the use of the machine, or ensure employees did not clean the machine while it was operating and while it was possible to access dangerous moving parts.

It also found the company did not provide any standardised or consistent training and supervision to workers who cleaned the machine or provide employees with standard operating procedures, including cleaning procedures for the machine.

It received a $60 000 fine without conviction and was ordered to pay an additional $3430 in costs to WorkSafe.

WorkSafe’s Manufacturing, Logistics and Agriculture Acting Director, Mary Chojnacki said the company had failed to ensure some fundamental requirements.

“A serious injury and a $60,000 fine could have been prevented if appropriate steps were taken to adequately guard and supervise the machine while it was being cleaned, something that would have cost far less,” she said.

“If there are instances where machines can operate without guarding, employers need to fix this as a matter of urgency. Not doing so is just not worth it.”

“Despite the obvious risks it is unfortunately all too common for machines to be kept running while they’re being cleaned. Every time that happens, there is a risk of serious injury or death.”

“WorkSafe takes incidents like this seriously.

“In this case, the company was investigated and charged in just eight months.”

“This sends a strong message to all employers that safety must be a priority.

“The consequences can be not only immediate for the worker but for businesses, an unwanted court appearance and potential fine.”

“WorkSafe actively enforces the law. Since July last year, 79 prosecutions have commenced compared with 56 in the previous corresponding period.”

Last year WorkSafe’s Michael Birt told Food Magazine that the food industry is a major hotspot for injuries and accidents.

“The food manufacturing industry is one of the targeted industries in 2010, 11 and 12, because it isn’t getting there,” he said.

“We’re running a campaign this year targeting eight high risk industries, and food manufacturing is one of the eight, along with other related industries road ytansport and warehousing and storage.”

And just last month a spokesperson from WorkCover NSW told Food Magazine that the rates of incidents does not seem to be declining.

“Generally speaking often there is a reluctance from an organisation to want to engage with any regulators, whether its WorkCover or another food industry body,” the spokesperson said.
“But we strongly encourage companies to be proactive.
“We would much prefer they be proactive and talk to us so we can come out there and give our input.

“I know it is difficult and we are always working strongly to change the perspective of what we do and we are very keen to engage with industry.

“I think it’s a bit back to front.

“If an organisation could cause someone to be seriously injured or worse, killed, it is only in their best interest to talk to us and avoid any injuries and the costs and damage to reputation that would cause.

“It’s all about gaining competitive advantage these days between companies so people need to embrace safety and be proactive about it.”

Fear campaign damaging Supermarket Senate Inquiry

The bullying behaviours and fear campaigns used by the major supermarkets to wield complete power over suppliers is still getting in the way of the Senate Inquiry into the issue.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) are collaborating on the Inquiry into the anti-competitive practises of Coles and Woolworths.

The decision to take the matter to the Senate came after the dairy industry voiced its concern over the  milk price wars which resulted in both the major supermarkets selling milk for just $1 a litre, pushing farmers out of the industry as they struggled to make a living on such small payments.

Countless Australian food companies are either closing down completely or moving their operations overseas, as the influx of private-label products on supermarket shelves leaves them with two choices.

They can try to compete with the supermarkets who are able to sell similar products at ridiculously low prices because of the power they have over suppliers, but the chances of surviving, let alone making profits, are slim.

Or, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Many Australian food companies have reluctantly agreed to cease operations as they were and instead use their factories and workforce to supply products for the supermarkets’ private label products.

But if they thought were at the mercy of the supermarkets before, they haven’t seen the worst of it until they relinquish any kind of control they had over their destiny by signing such an agreement.

Because when Coles and Woolworths decide they want to put a product on special, or they need a huge amount of a certain product, you have to deliver.

And if a company can’t deliver on time, or at the price they want to sell the product at? Too bad, Coles and Woolworths say.

“Invariably they say it is not absorbed by the grower or the manufacturer when they cut the prices but in the end it always does,” Jennifer Dowell, National Secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union Food Division, told Food Magazine.

“Companies can’t even transport their own stuff to Coles and Woollies!

“They transport it for you and then just bill you with their high transport prices later.

“And they won’t store stuff that is within a certain timeframe from its use-by date.

“They make the producers store it then tell them they need it within so many hours.

“So producers are in this quandary where they can’t afford to produce stuff and keep it in storage because if Coles and Woollies decide they don’t want to take it they are out of pocket.”

“They have to produce everything at such short notice so they are never able to get a long term view and a stable situation at their factory.”

Nobody willing to speak up

Dowell said the fear campaign the major supermarkets operate with makes it impossible for food companies to criticise them.

“The public doesn’t have enough information about what’s really going on in the industry.

“It’s completely ridiculous that they can’t come out and publically say ‘Coles and Woolworths are killing us’ because they just ensure that they will go out of business.

“If you publically criticise Coles and Woollies, your products will just no longer be put on the shelves, and they’re getting away with that!”

Countless food producers and farmers have discussed the impact of the supermarket dominance with Food Magazine, but almost all are too afraid to go on the record with such claims.

With Coles and Woolworths controlling 80 per cent of the grocery market in Australia, if one or both decided to stop stocking a companies’ product, it really has nowhere else to turn.

Journalists and workers in the industry are all too aware of the dire situation our food sector is in, but nobody is willing to put their name or company to the claims.

The ABC’s Lateline made over 100 calls to get comment from a food producer, and when they did find one willing, he would only speak with the promise of anonymity.

“But after more than 100 phone calls, just one Australian supplier was willing to speak to Lateline about alleged abuses of power by Coles and Woolworths as long as we agreed to hide his identity, like this, (vision shows unidentifiable silhouette of man) and even hide the kind of product he supplied,” Margot O’Neill says in the story.

“But after sleepless nights the supplier pulled out, leaving us to use only his words about why he’s so scared.

“ANONYMOUS SUPPLIER (male voiceover): "It’s quite common for the majors to stop dealing with a supplier … and suppliers to have little chance of a viable business unless they’re serving the two major supermarkets, … so it’s too big a risk to expose myself.

“But I think the power of the big supermarkets is now too large for the proper functioning of our food supply."

And while the ACCC has promised to keep all claims made to it in regards to the supermarkets confidential, few are willing to speak up, for fear they will be found out and punished.

“Without doubt there is a climate of fear when it comes to farmers and food processors speaking out about practices of the big two,” Nick Xenophon, Senate select committee food processing, told the ABC.

“When farmers and food processors tell me that they feel a bit like medieval serfs, they’re beholden to Coles and Woollies as their medieval landlords, then you know there’s something seriously wrong.”

Something has to be done

When asked if she would support a Supermarket Ombudsman, as suggested by the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC), Dowell was welcoming of the idea.

“I’ll support anything at this stage!” she told Food Magazine.

“We have been talking about this for years and I’ve watched it get worse and worse.

“They own just about everything; they’ve got petrol, pharmaceutical, pokie machines and alcohol so essentially they have this massive political influence so they intervene in those areas too.”

With so much control over various industries and governments in Australia, the scary reality is that the major supermarkets may not be stoppable, at least not without specific laws and regulations to stop the behaviours.

“If we get more powers given to the ACCC, any power to an Ombudsman, and get people the ability to raise issues without losing their job, then that is a step in the right direction, because right now they cannot,” Dowell explained.

“My concern is that if we lose food sovereignty, if we lose control of our food chain we become hostage to other countries supplying our food.

“How ridiculous is that? In Australia we have the ability to produce the best food in the world, so how are we getting into this situation?

“Once these companies go, they won’t some back, they’re not going to come back and rebuild factories and businesses because Australia is upset after it basically kicked them out in the first place.

“If we rely on imports, and a country decides it is going to give its own market priority, as it very well should, what do we do? Where do we go?

“At a time when the world is saying Africa needs to have food sovereignty, we’re actually participating in a process where we won’t be able to feed our own people.

“We will be reliant on importing food.

“When we finally hit the wall and find that everything is coming from overseas and we no longer have any Australian food industries, it will be too late.”

How concerned are you about the power held by Coles and Woolworths? How do you think they can be stopped?

AFGC finalises draft legislation calling for Supermarket Ombudsman

The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) has announced it is finalising the draft submission for a Supermarket Ombudsman to be a key part of the next Federal Budget.

The peak industry body has been urging the government to instate an Ombudsman and establish a Trading Code of Conduct, to stamp out the anti-competitive, behaviours of the major supermarkets, which are pushing Australian food manufacturers and small businesses out of business.

The AFGC announced it would be starting on its draft legislation to present to the government back in January and has enlisted the help of international law firm Baker and McKenzie in its bid.

The AFGC wants the Supermarket Ombudsman to ensure Coles and Woolworths are fair and transparent in their pricing and do not push more Australian companies and industries out of business, as they have done with the dairy and fresh produce industries, among others.

The AFGC also announced last month that it would be extending its representative reach to also include small to medium enterprises.

It will be consulting all stakeholders on the draft legislation this week, before the matter is referred to the government for approval.

Mariner wants 20% stake in Capalino Honey

Following its purchase of over 12 per cent of Capalino Honey shares last week, Mariner Corporation now has its sights set on having a 20 per cent stake in the company.

Mariner has written to all the shareholders in Capilano Honey Limited, with an offer to pay up to AU$1.50 per share, which would mean another $925 000 investment from company, which specialised in international real estate until the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), when it changed its business plan.

The stake in Capalino is just one of many food company acquisitions by Mariner.

SPC Ardmona changing strategies to stay afloat

In response to the difficulties Australian food manufacturers face, including the supermarket price wars and the high Australian dollar, SPC Ardmona is embracing new packaging technology to reduce costs.

The iconic Australian brand has long been famous for the tins its foods, including fruits and vegetables, have always been available in.

But to keep up with the big guys – the major supermarkets – SPC had to re-evaluate how to stay afloat in the market.

"We have no choice. We have to work around the high dollar; accept that house brands are a growing reality of food retailing and lift productivity so we can absorb rising food commodity costs," Pinneri said.
The company also got a leg up in the industry when it introduced fruits in plastic containers and screw-top bottles, which provided an easier alternative to the traditional tins.

The company was losing its place in the market as, like so many other sectors, it was being pushed out by cheap imports and private label products sold at a lower price.

Last August it announced it would cut 150 jobs and close its Mooroopna manufacturing plant due to a slump in trading as a result of the strong Australian dollar.

Together with parent company Coca-Cola Amatil, it worked hard to source local ingredients for its operations, with only five per cent of its products made from foreign components, usually only used during shortages in local supply.

SPC’s exports suffered a 25 per cent slump over the last five years, largely due to the high Australian dollar.

But Pinneri pointed to the predicted 70 per cent rise in global food demand in the next 40 years as a great opportunity for food processors.

"Now we’re committed to getting out of the minor league and staying the course," he said.

"We’re getting on with investing in new opportunities in this industry.
"You’ll hopefully see a change in our products in store – what we produce will be more consumer-centric.

"We’re no longer a canned fruit business – those are Nanna’s products – we’re about new technology and product lines.”

"Well make this investment in Australia work.

"We’re commited to achieving phase one of our transformation by 2015."

The company is also examining possible plans to develop specific supermarket house brand lines.

"I take a different approach to a lot of thinking on private labels – I’d rather leverage my infrastructure by producing private label products than see them imported from somewhere else," Pinneri explained.

He also believes more cooperation between government and industry is needed if the Australian food manufacturing and packaging industries are to survive the changes to the market.

Governments need to encourage scale and capital investment, he said, to help companies lift productivity at the rates needed to compete with China.

"We must reduce the burden on local manufacturers, accelerating tax depreciation allowances on re-equiping costs and investments in carbon reduction and water saving technology," Pinneri said.

Eucalyptus oil distributor fined over false ‘Made in Australia’ claims

The consumer watchdog has found the distributor of Double D eucalyptus oil falsely labelled its product as ‘Made in Australia,’ and have ordered they pay a $6 600 fine.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACC) found the product was made from imported oil, which the company tried to pass off as Australian so they could increase costs.

"Consumers should be able to rely on the accuracy of labels, especially when they are prepared to pay a premium for products made in Australia," ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.

The consumer watchdog issued a notice stating it had reasonable grounds to believe that Club Trading & Distribution lied about the oil in its 100ml bottle when it said it came from Australia.

In reality, the oil was actually imported from China and Southern Africa.

"Australian grown eucalyptus oil is readily available to distributors and primary producers are harmed when imported oil is falsely labelled as being made in Australia," Sims said.

"Traders making made in Australia claims need to ensure that their labels are kept up to date to reflect changes in sources of supply.

"Failure to do so may lead to a contravention of the Competition and Consumer Act, infringement notices or court action.”

Mariner sells Farm Pride and Peanut Butter Company shares

 Mariner Corporation has announced it has sold its stake in Farm Pride Foods Limited.

In an announcement on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) this morning the company, which has offices in Boston, London and Tokyo, as well as Australia, said it has handed its 12 per cent stake back to the market.

The sale will represent a $196 786 increase in Mariner’s finances, which acquired a stake in Capalino Honey earlier this week.

Mariner, which significantly changed its business structure and focus as a result of the Global Financial Crisis, (GFC) said the Capalino purchase was one part of the company’s move towards Australian food companies.

“The acquisition is the final part of a series of 4 acquisitions from GPG for a total consideration of $3 160 000, as announced to the market on 2 February 2012, and follows other recently announced Mariner Settlements of a 19.83% stake in Peanut Butter Company of Australia Limited, a 12.02% state in Farm Pride Foods Limited and a 19.65% stake in Tasmanian Pure Foods Limited,” it said.

Surprisingly, another ASX announcement this morning said Mariner has sold its 19.83 per cent stake in the Peanut Butter Company of Australia for $315 000.

 

Steggles defends “free to roam” claims still on products

Steggles chickens are still being advertised as “free to roam” despite the consumer watchdog labelling such claims by the company as misleading and deceptive last year.

In September the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) announced it was taking a number of chicken suppliers to the Federal Court, claiming they wrongly advertised chickens as free range.

According to the ACCC, national Steggles suppliers Baiada Poultry and Barttner Enterprises, La Iconica suppliers, Turi Foods and the Australian Chicken Meat Federation were misleading or deceptive in the promotion and supply of chicken products.

The ACCC said the impression that Steggles chickens are raised in barns with plenty of room to roam freely used in the advertisement and promotion greatly influence consumers, and in reality, most of the animals have a space no larger than an A4 sheet of paper.

Despite La Ionica’s decision to stop using the “free to roam” claim and pay the $100 000 penalty as a result of the court case, Steggles and Baiada are refusing to bow to pressure and are instead arguing against the ACCC’s claims.

John Camilleri, the managing director of Steggles’ owner Baiada Poultry yesterday told the Federal Court in Melbourne that he ordered the slogan ”free to roam in large barns” be removed from chicken packaging in August last year.

He said the differing rates at which products are stored and sold makes it impossible to eradicate any reference to “free to roam” claims overnight, and his objective is to have “hardly any” chicken with the slogan for sale by the end of April this year.

”What we don’t have control of is any stock that’s in obscure locations,” he said.

”Some of these products have a shelf life of 18 months.”

He said Baiada limits the density of chickens in its sheds to 36 kilograms per square metre, although the limit set by national poultry rearing regulations is 40 kilograms per square metre.

During the case, Camilleri vocalised what many in the industry already know about the storage and distribution protocol of the major supermarkets.

The ACCC’s counsel, Colin Golvan, SC, asked him to explain why a frozen chicken bought by a representative of the regulator last month in the Melbourne CBS still had “free to roam” on the packaging.

Camilleri explained that the product had old packaging, because ”God knows how long Coles have been storing that or where it’s been stored.”

The trial is continuing.

Q&A with Gordon Slater, Byron Bay Cookie Company chairman

Gordon Slater, chairman of local manufacturer Byron Bay Cookie Company, speaks to Manufacturers’ Monthly about the company’s transition from hand-made to machine production, and the important role exporting plays in its future growth plans.

What’s the best thing about being chairman of Byron Bay Cookie Company?

The best thing about being the chairman of Byron Bay Cookie Company is getting involved in all aspects of the business, from product development to operations and sales & marketing.

Plus I get to try a lot of different cookies!

How much time do you spend at your manufacturing facilities?

I split my time between our bakehouse in Byron Bay and our new head office in Sydney Chifley Towers which now employs a strategic team of 5 (and growing).

Our cookies are still baked in the original bakehouse in Byron Bay where we bake hundreds of thousands of cookies weekly!

We employ between 50 and 100 staff; this fluctuates throughout the year and we’ll bring on more casuals to cover our peak production periods.

We also have an office in London, UK and a presence in the US.

What’s the one piece of technology/equipment that Byron Bay Cookie Company could not manufacture without?

Over the last couple of years we’ve made sure to put the right equipment in place to remain innovative and ahead of our competitors.

Our cookies were originally hand made which gave us a certain point of differentiation, however limited us in terms of long term growth.

We’ve since made key equipment purchases enabling us to scale up production whilst remaining true to our traditional baking methods.

Byron Bay Cookie Company began in a farm-style kitchen and is now recording 17% year on year growth. Was this the plan from the get-go?

Our plan has always been to manufacture a superior quality product but more importantly, we understood very early on that we had found a niche for a great-tasting treat that can be enjoyed with a coffee and uses natural, locally-sourced ingredients.

As such we were the “original café cookie” and pioneered the concept of cookie jars in cafes and delis across Australia.

Whilst the café market remains at the core of our business, we’ve managed to maintain growth by expanding into the retail market and by acquiring other brands such as Luken & May biscuits and Falwasser crispbread.

How important are export markets to the longevity of your business?

Export markets have been key to our expansion from day dot.

The very first export market we conquered was the UK over 10 years ago.

This was a calculated risk at the time and we learned a lot from it as a business.

We first started shipping our cookies from Australia; however as customer demand grew we made the strategic move to embark into a joint venture with a local bakery so Byron Bay Cookies are now made in the UK for the European market.

The next market on our list was Japan and it’s interesting to see how each market reacts to different products.

Whist the Dotty is our number 1 seller in Australia and in the UK, it’s our Fig & Pecan that tops the list in Japan, and the Triple Choc Fudge in the US.

We’re always on the lookout for new export markets, and as such are planning on increasing our presence at key tradeshows overseas.

Byron Bay Cookie Company is a classic example of what Australian manufacturers do best: quality over quantity. Can you comment on this?

From the very beginning our mission was to bake great cookies using the finest quality ingredients. By enforcing quality through each step of the production process, we managed to create a highly loyal customer following and we grew from there.

The challenge over the years has been to remain innovative whilst maintaining the same quality and taste that took us where we are today.

Do you think the Australian government does enough to help the manufacturing industry?

The Australian government has put in place some great programs which we have taken advantage of over the years.

At the end of the day, it’s up to us entrepreneurs to keep challenging ourselves and continually push for more innovation and creative ways to take the business further.

Which other Australian manufacturers do you admire, and why?

Australian fashion manufacturers have done a tremendous job with growing their brands overseas; Billabong is the perfect example.

A great product will only take you so far; ultimately it’s about creating and nurturing a strong brand that will take us that extra mile and deliver returns.

You are also a practicing orthopaedic surgeon: does your surgery have the best lolly jar ever?

Without a doubt! It’s important for us to put our product forward at any given opportunity.

You know the saying, ‘never trust a skinny chef’? You own a cookie company: how come you’re so slim?!

I have my personal trainer to thank for this!

The biggest challenge is the constant travelling that I do (and the constant product testing!).

It’s all about balance and great time management.

I’ve always been very driven in business and this is something that I apply to my personal life and discipline as well.

 

Mariner buys stake in Capilano honey

Mariner Corporation Limited has purchased a 12.65 per cent stake of Australian honey producer Capilano.

Mariner purchased the 1 078 167 shares from Guinness Peat Group (Australia) Limited and said in a statement on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) website that the stake in Capilano is part of a greater push by the company.

“The acquisition is the final part of a series of 4 acquisitions from GPG for a total consideration of $3 160 000, as announced to the market on 2 February 2012, and follows other recently announced Mariner Settlements of a 19.83% stake in Peanut Butter Company of Australia Limited, a 12.02% state in Farm Pride Foods Limited and a 19.65% stake in Tasmanian Pure Foods Limited.

Mariner was established in 2003, and with offices in Boston, London and Tokyo, was specialised in Australian and international real estate prior to the Global Financial Crisis (GFC).

It implemented plans to disposal of assets and investments, cut costs, reduce debt and simplify operations.

New management of the company is focussed on re-launching the company and immediate growth from strategic acquisitions.