Two weeks on, Coles warehouse workers accept deal

The blockade at the Coles warehouse in Melbourne has ended after two weeks, after staff accepted a new pay deal.

The protesters were fighting for better pay conditions and had not allowed any trucks in or out of the facility since the strike began, impacting supply to Coles stores.

The National Union of Workers (NUW) members accepted a 12 per cent pay rise over three years from the Toll Group, which manages the warehouse on behalf of Coles, yesterday.

Despite a court ruling that they stop the blockade, the workers vowed to continue last week and into this week, until yesterday when they decided the agreement was finally “much better” than what they had previously been offered.

But Tolls said the agreed upon deal is for the same amount as what they first offered, just distributed differently.

"The total value of Toll's offer has not changed over the past two weeks,” Toll corporate affairs manager Andrew Ethell said.

“It remains an effective 4 per cent annual wage rise over three years.

"Arriving at this final negotiated agreement has resulted in shuffling the structure of how wages and conditions will be allocated, effectively reducing some conditions in order to be able to increase others.

"It is a shame the illegal blockade that's been in place for the past two weeks has delayed a resolution being reached earlier."

NUW secretary Tim Kennedy said the workers voted to accept the deal because it dealt with the central issues the workers have been fighting for, including the ability to earn rostered days off (RDO’s), public holiday agreements and shift penalties.

In lieu of a shift penalty for workers rostered on between 2pm and 10pm, the workers have agreed on a family allowance payment  to be added to the deal.

"The union is very happy the workers, after a long two-week struggle, have been able to secure an agreement," he said. 

The union’s argument was centred on discrepancies in workplace agreements between the Sommerton warehouse and other Coles warehouses.

"There is no doubt, in order to make certain we won these conditions of equal treatment, there had to be some give and take," Kennedy said.


The draft National Food Plan: putting corporate hunger first

The Federal Government released on Tuesday the green paper for Australia’s first-ever National Food Plan. According to Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig, this plan “will ensure Australia has a sustainable, globally competitive, resilient food supply that supports access to nutritious and affordable food”.

Ostensibly, the plan is for the benefit of all Australians, but on closer inspection it is really a plan for large agri-business and retailing corporations. This should surprise no-one, given it was conceived at the urging of the former Woolworths CEO, Michael Luscombe, for a food “super-ministry” prior to the 2010 Federal Election. The plan’s early development was guided by a corporate-dominated National Food Policy Working Group, established after that election to “foster a common understanding [between the Government and the food industry] of the industry’s priorities, challenges and future outlook across the supply chain”.

The Issues Paper, released in June 2011, contained 48 questions, half concerning the need to develop a “competitive, productive and efficient food industry”. There was only one question about environmental sustainability. The nature of the “consultation” as a top-down, tightly-controlled process was clear, with the Government setting the parameters of acceptable topics, and corporate representatives having an inside and direct channel to decision-makers. The further liberalisation of trade in food and agriculture, for example, was not a matter on which the Government wanted the opinion of the Australian public; free trade was assumed to be of unquestionable public benefit.

Despite this unpromising trajectory, many members of the community engaged in good faith with the public consultation. Two hundred and seventy-nine written submissions were received, with several identifying the need for bold and transformative policy changes if Australia was to develop a sustainable food system. Melbourne University’s Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab, which produced the ground-breaking Food Supply Scenarios report in April 2011, commented that:

Substantial, unavoidable and imminent changes in our food supply systems … require fundamental shifts in how we manage land and resources for food production … These potentially non-linear changes mean the past is not necessarily a reliable indicator of the future and care must be taken in avoiding ‘lazy’ assumptions about the possibility of continuing in a business-as-usual trajectory.

Unfortunately the green paper is largely based on precisely such assumptions. According to the green paper, Australia “has a strong, safe and stable food system” and “Australians enjoy high levels of food security”; our food industry is “resilient and flexible” and we “have one of the best food systems in the world.” The paper focuses on our food industry “seizing new market opportunities”, reflecting the Prime Minister’s recent urging that we become “the food bowl of Asia”. Last week on The Conversation, Allan Curtis gently exposed that claim – which underpins much of the green paper – as a frankly preposterous example of wishful thinking.

Here we discuss some of the more significant flawed assumptions of the draft National Food Plan. These tend to be implicit, reflecting an underlying commitment to the free market, free trade, and constantly expanding production – an unavoidable imperative in a capitalist economy.


Flickr/Rainforest Action Network


Assumption 1: Food insecurity will primarily be met through increased food production

The green paper makes some concessions to the multidimensionality of food insecurity: poverty, distribution inefficiencies, and political instability are mentioned, for example. Yet the overwhelming message is that more food must be produced, and that such production will, when combined with further liberalising agricultural trade, deal with food insecurity.

When the Food Plan was first announced, it was presented as an effort to “develop a strategy to maximise food production opportunities”. Now the green paper states that the first strategy to ensure Australia’s food security is to “build global competitiveness and productive, resilient industry sectors” positioned to “seize new market opportunities” created by anticipated rising demand.

Yet food insecurity is increasing in a world awash with food. In Australia, conservative estimates indicate that around 5% of the population experience food insecurity, although we produce enough food for 60 million people. Globally, the world produces enough food for 11 billion with a global population of 7 billion, and yet nearly 1 billion people are chronically malnourished, and as much as 40% of food purchased is wasted.

The green paper says little about the fundamental cause of food insecurity: inequality. Hunger – and other related social pathologies, such as the obesity pandemic – are the result of a corporate-controlled food system that distributes resources according to the ability to pay, rather than by need. The over-riding imperative of this system is to generate profits, not to feed people well.

Assumption 2: The future will look much the same as the past

The green paper states that:

even though Australia’s food supply is secure overall, we cannot be complacent in preparing for natural disasters, adverse weather conditions and other sudden and unexpected events … these events have the potential to temporarily disrupt food production and distribution and could expose some individuals, communities or regions to transient food insecurity

These transient risks are the only ones identified as explicitly threatening Australia’s food security. The green paper is equivocal about climate change impacts, citing ABARES models suggesting that agricultural productivity might increase with more rain in some scenarios. This flies in the face of recent detailed assessments by the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO which confirm a decades-long drying pattern along the east coast, and south-east and south-west regions.

According to the Minister, “Australian inventiveness” will “find the solutions”; and our excess production will emerge unscathed, even enhanced, if only, it would seem, our farmers embrace bio-technology. Yet the world’s leading agricultural scientists and development experts, and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food have made it clear: we need holistic and systemic change in agriculture. We cannot rely on the same practices that have led us to the current food and resource crises to get us out of them.

Assumption 3: Farm incomes will be higher when more is produced

According to the green paper:

The real value of world food demand [is expected] to be 77 per cent higher in 2050 than in 2007 … This gives our food sector good prospects over the long term, due to our comparative proximity to Asia … and our existing strengths in commodities such as beef, wheat, dairy, sheep meat and sugar

The assumption here is that demand growth will outstrip supply, and so there will be a more or less permanent dynamic of increasing returns to Australian producers through higher volumes supplying niche markets in Asia. But any farmer knows that price-taking commodity producers suffer price reductions in a glut. Targeting niche markets, no matter how big they are, is a response to oversupply and price squeezes. In a free and unrestricted market, lower cost producers, quite likely from South America, will target these niches. The consequences will be more of the same for Australian producers – diminishing returns.

Assumption 4: Food prices adequately embody environmental, health, and social costs

It’s well known that markets externalise, or socialise, many costs associated with production and consumption. Nowhere is this more true than in the industrialised food system, where the “real costs of cheap food” are exceedingly high, but the green paper, with its relentless focus on the need for a competitive, productive, food industry is seemingly oblivious; the phrase “cheap food” is not mentioned, and at only one point is it acknowledged that fresh food is rising in price faster than unhealthy food.

On the basis of work by Australia’s top scientists, the findings of the Prime Minister’s Science, Engineering and Innovations Council Reports of 2010/2011 on water, energy, and food security are at odds with the green paper’s predictions about the costs and reliable supply of food. Unlike Scandanavia, Australia has no junk food tax – nor is any proposed in the green paper – which means that food corporations can receive handsome profits, while the taxpayer picks up the hefty healthcare tab of the obesity pandemic, and our children face reduced life expectancies.

Assumption 5: Food corporations and markets will solve the problems of inequity and social justice



We’ve noted earlier the central role that Government has signalled for Australia’s food industry in “feeding the world”. Yet by any measure, the food industry has failed to achieve the basic objective of maintaining a healthy population in this country, with current projections showing that nearly 80% of the adult population will be overweight or obese in little over a decade. The principal burden of the associated ill-health falls on lower socio-economic groups. It’s richly ironic that the green paper assigns a major responsibility for redressing this to the corporations who have profited so well from cultivating consumer preferences for unhealthy products:

the food industry has a key role to play in addressing health-related messages and is implementing initiatives to help Australians maintain a balanced diet … The Australian Government will continue to work with the food industry to change the dietary behaviours of Australians

Here as elsewhere, the green paper reads as though the GFC and its continuing reverberations never happened. Its rigid ideological adherence to “market-led solutions” (see below) keeps those companies, who are the principal source of the food system’s social, environmental, and economic dysfunctions, at the helm of the system’s evolution.

Assumption 6: The free market-based food system is efficient

According to the green paper:

The Australian Government’s overall approach to food industry policy is part of a general economic policy approach that aims to foster a flexible economy and a sound and stable business environment … A key objective of the market-based approach is to improve competition and productivity across the economy, allowing resources to gravitate to their most valued use. Competition in domestic industries can, in turn, improve international competitiveness of domestic firms by encouraging improvements in productivity, flexibility, innovation and efficiency

If free markets are the most efficient economic system known, why is it that, in 1940, the more localised short chain food system produced 2.3 calories of food for one calorie of oil; but, after several decades of “market efficiency dividends”, it now takes between 8 and 10 calories of oil – and often much more – to deliver that same calorie of food? What’s worse, in 1940 oil was easily extracted from a few hundred feet at a cost of one barrel of oil to produce 100 barrels. Today the ratio is 1:10, dropping to 1:3 for “non-conventional” oil sources such as tar sands and coal seam gas.

In truth, the “market efficiencies” are largely illusory. Cheap and easily accessible oil allowed the industrial food system to flourish, but this era is ending. Oil is an extremely compact and versatile energy source with no simple replacement. Biofuels are one of the market’s responses to the price rises of this dwindling resource (coal seam gas is another); but the corporate rush to produce them, underwritten by state subsidies and targets in the name of the “green economy”, has been identified as a chief cause of the mass suffering that occurred in the 2008 food crisis.




In short, contrary to the Government’s claims, the green paper is a recipe for increasing vulnerability, lack of resilience, and heightened inequality in our food system. A different approach, based on a different set of values and priorities, is required. That is why the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance is inviting all concerned members of the public to join us in a participatory and democratic conversation to develop a food system that is truly fit for the challenges of this century.

We look to the the Canadian People’s Food Policy Project and the Scottish Food Manifesto as examples of what is possible; and we ask all who think there is more to food policy than meeting the needs of corporations, to join us in the months ahead as we develop a “People’s Food Plan” which will highlight best practice in creating a food system which is sustainable, healthy, and fair.

Comments welcome below.

Nicholas Rose is affiliated with the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance, a not-for-profit association, incorporated in the Australian Capital Territory, whose mission is to work towards fair, diverse and democratic food systems for the benefit of all Australians.

Michael Croft is affiliated with the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance, a not-for-profit association, incorporated in the Australian Capital Territory, whose mission is to work towards fair, diverse and democratic food systems for the benefit of all Australians.

The Conversation

This article was originally published at The Conversation. Read the original article.

The 5 strangest ways food will be different in future

Food that comes out of a printer, giant skyscraper farms to meet the increased world food demand, drinks made of urine and jelly made out of humans.

These are just some of the wackiest ways food is set to change in the future, according to experts.

Check out the full list at, but be prepared to be utterly grossed out.

Fair Work to be brought in again to settle Coles warehouse dispute

The industrial umpire will again be brought in to deal with the controversial blockade by workers at a Coles warehouse in Melbourne, after they defied a court order last week and continued protesting.

Discussions continued over the weekend, after workers voted against an offer from the Toll Group, which manages the Sommerton site, on Friday.

The order handed down by the Victorian Supreme Court last week banned the National Union of Workers (NUW) and 25 individuals from continuing their action, which is preventing trucks entering or leaving the warehouse.

The initial order was handed down a week ago, and last Wednesday Justice Anne Ferguson extended the ban for a further seven days.

Barrister for the Toll Group, Stuart Wood SC, said it appeared one of the people named in the order was in contempt.

"The picket is still continuing, it has actually intensified," he told the court.

"There is a physical barrier across the entrance.

"There is evidence of some of the defendants still being involved."

According to Toll Group, management and staff tried entering the site on Wednesday morning, but were warned by police that it was not safe to proceed.

“Toll will not be taking any action at the union's blockade that endangers safety," Toll Group general manager of corporate affairs Andrew Ethell said in a statement.

The union said it had no control over the blockade, but also told the company they could arrange for some Toll people to access the site, Ethell alleged.

"The people blocking vehicles from entering the site are acting illegally, regardless of whether they have been named as part of a Supreme Court order or not," he said.

Suggestions that Coles would step in have also been quashed, with chief executive Ian McLeod saying the issues are not for the supermarket giant to resolve.

He said that while he is concerned that the blockade outside the site is continuing despite the court order.

"It is somewhat troubling when you've got … up to 200 people who actually want to go to work but have been denied the right to do so. I think that's concerning," McLeod told Fairfax radio on Thursday.

The NUW is calling for pay and entitlements to be increased for the site’s 600 workers to get them in line with other Coles workers.

It wants Coles to take part in enterprise bargaining agreement talks with Toll in a bid to break the stalemate.

But McLeod has ruled out a Coles intervention.

"That's not for us to decide,” he said.

“This is a dispute between Toll and their employees.”

Workers don’t want their jobs here: Simplot boss

The promise of receiving a sizeable redundancy payout is changing the scope of the working world, and according to Simplot boss Tom O’Brien, 20 per cent of his workers want processing plants to close for this reason.

As one of Australia’s largest food processors, Simplot works hard to stay afloat in the tough retail environment, but O’Brien has told Business Spectator and ABC News that the workers don’t even want to fight for the company and their jobs.

He believes big redundancy payouts are what is encouraging workers to stay in the one company, and that they are detrimental to the food processing industry in its current state.

"Every food manufacturer in Australia is getting ready to close plants in one form or another, it's just a matter of when," he said.

"We're getting no price increases whatsover, we've got the cost of non-tradeables growing rapidly in the market.

"The cost of power and water and everything else is just going up astronomically."

But John Short from the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU), which represents the workers at Simplot’s Davenport and Ulverstone plants in Tasmania, has slammed O’Brien’s comments, arguing workers do want to keep their jobs.

"I think it's very disappointing. I don't know who he's talking to, but the people we talk to are very much dedicated and committed to the company," he said.

"They don't want to see the jobs lost there.

"When we talk to people, they're the opposite.

“They want permanent jobs."

Inghams Enterprises to be sold

Major Australian poultry business Inghams Enterprises will go up for sale this year.

The only shareholder of the company, Bob Ingham, announced that he is preparing the company for sale, after careful consideration.

“My decision marks the next phase for the successful ongoing development of the company and is one that I, as sole shareholder, have considered for a number of years,” he said.

The company is believed to have made sales of more than $2 billion in the last financial year.

Inghams produces a range of fresh and processed poultry products, as well as animal stock feed, and holds a 35 per cent share of Australia’s chicken and turkey market.

The company has predicted that the sale will not result in any job losses for its 9000 employees, but ultimately that decision will depend on the buyer.

Investec Bank (Australia) has been tasked with managing the search for a new buyer, but no decisions have been made about the type of buyer they are after.

There has apparently been some interest from several overseas buyers, as well as Australian bakery companies.

Inghams has confirmed that daily operations will continue as usual under chief executive Kevin McBain.


Police expected to end Coles warehouse strike


It is expected that Victorian police will be called in to end the blockade outside the Coles Sommerton warehouse.

Workers have been striking for over a week and preventing trucks from coming in or out, in their fight for better pay and conditions.

The Supreme Court yesterday banned the National Union of Workers from organising the protest, leading local nurses to join the picket to boost the numbers.

The Toll Group, which manages the warehouse for Coles, is adamant the blockade is illegal, and is holding discussions with police to stop it.

But striking workers are not backing down, and in a show of defiance, brought in extra firewood yesterday to keep warm at night.

Last Friday, the 600 striking workers won the right from Fair Work Australia to continue picketing, but management of the warehouse then applied for an emergency injunction to end the strike on Saturday.

What do you think of the protest? Should they be stopped by police, or are they entitled to fight?

Private Label will damage our business: Four ‘N’ Twenty pie maker

The supermarket price wars have had many victims, and the latest to be impacted by the ruthless competition that is squeezing food companies out of business is iconic Aussie pie maker Four ‘N’ Twenty.

Yesterday the makers of Four ‘N’ Twenty pies, Patties Foods, which also manufactures Herbert Adams and Nanna’s brands, said the increase in private label will hurt its business, mostly likely beginning this year.

The pie maker predicts that in the second half of 2012, it will face much tougher trading conditions, as private label offering from Woolworths and Coles increase in numbers, pushing established brands off the shelves.

Both supermarkets have confirmed plans to rapidly increase private label products in the coming years, and as they do so, other manufacturers are seeing their products moved from prime positions on shelves, and disappearing altogether.

Very few manufacturers will speak on the record about the impact of the supermarket price wars, for fear their deletion from shelves will be speeded up if they do.

Even the Senate Inquiry investigating the power of the big two struggled to get people to speak, which is indicative of the power they wield over manufacturers and suppliers.

The few who will speak either speak out anonymously, or once they can no longer be punished, as was the case with the exiting chief executive of the Wine Federation Australia, Stephen Strachan, criticised the supermarkets’ power only when he had stepped down from the post.

''If you're an individual company that speaks out against them or says anything publicly that criticises their tactics, they would have no hesitation in giving you a holiday from their shelves and that is what's creating a culture of fear and compliance in the industry,'' Strachan said.

''Whenever I've made comments in the press, I could only talk about retailers in a generic sense, but they [Coles and Woolworths] would religiously follow up on those comments and make it known they were displeased.”

The recent Food Magazine Leaders Summit also came up against the same issues.

We invited food manufacturers and other food companies to participate in the day, aimed to identify the main issues in the industry and work towards improvement, but when it became known that the impact of the supermarket dominance would be discussed on the day, dozens refused to come, for fear of the retributions of being associated with anything discussing such issues.

Despite the pressure from the supermarkets, Patties has managed to continue to grow, mainly due to other more traditional pie outlets.

The company expects the 2012 financial year will deliver a net profit of between $19.2 million and $19.7 million, up from $18.4 in 2011.

Second-half net profit will almost definitely remain the same as the same period last year, however, showing the beginning of a decline in profits.

When Patties Foods released its 2012 first-half results it expected that, despite the difficult conditions, it was still expecting improved profits for the second half.

"The second half saw increasing pressure on margins in the In Home (supermarket) channel, particularly with the continued growth of private label products,” Patties said in a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX).

Managing director Greg Bourke said the company has been working hard on driving strong sales growth, and has increased manufacturing efficiencies maintained tight control over costs to achieve its results.

UK govt spending £5 million on improving dairy industry

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has announced that the government will spend £5 million (AU$7.6 million) on a program to improve competitiveness for dairy farmers.

The funding is part of the UK Government’s Rural Economy Scheme, and the announcement came on the same day as dairy farmers across the UK gathered at a summit in London, calling on  processors to reverse a reduction in farmgate milk prices.

The Department for Environment & Rural Affairs (Defra) will hear bids for funding in the coming months, but have not revealed exactly what they will be looking for.

"We are looking for high-quality bids from the dairy industry to help unlock growth through game-changing investments," a Defra statement said.

"The dairy grant funding is to help producers to increase their competitiveness and added value.

“The details regarding what it is available for support, intervention rates etc are not yet available, but will need to meet current RDPE (Rural Development Programme for England) funding requirements.

The dairy farming industry has suffered similar problems as their Australian counterparts, as cuts to base prices impact farmers’ incomes and businesses.

Coles’ decision to slash milk prices to $1 per litre last year had huge flow-on effects for the industry, and farmers left the industry in droves.

Last month, the dairy industry announced that name-brand milk, which is slightly more expensive than the private label offerings, will now be permeate free.

The additive, which is much cheaper than whole milk, dilutes the milk and allows it to be sold cheaper, but as consumers become aware of the presence of permeate, they are looking for products without it.

The move by the dairy industry provides an obvious point-of-difference for consumers, which it hopes will result in more sales of the additive-free milk.

In May Dairy Australia received $1 million from the Federal Government to conduct research to assess energy efficiency on dairy farms nation-wide, but do you think the Australian dairy industry needs a similar scheme to the UK?

Image: The Guardian

Supreme Court expected to enforce end to Coles Warehouse strike

Despite predictions that striking workers at the Coles factory in Melbourne will lose their legal battle today, they have pledged to continue their industrial action.

After the 600 striking workers at the Sommerton factory won the right from Fair Work Australia to continue picketing on Friday, management of the warehouse then applied on Saturday for an emergency injunction to end the strike.

Toll Group lawyer Stuart Wood said the 600 striking workers need to be stopped to allow the 150 workers who want to go back to work, to do so.

'There are real-life individuals whose livelihoods are being impacted by the picket,' he told the court.

'It is having a deleterious impact on employees who wish to cross the picket and work at the Somerton site.'

The Toll Group have told the Victorian Supreme Court that stopping the strike by National Union of Workers (NUW) members is urgent because they have blocked trucks from entering or exiting the Somerton warehouse since Tuesday.

The matter was adjourned until today when union lawyers failed to appear in court.

They were not present because they had not been properly served with legal documents, which Wood said was a deliberate action intended to create significant tactical advantage by extending the blockade until today.

NUW state secretary Tim Kennedy told reporters at the picket line yesterday, that he is expecting the Supreme Court rule in favour of Toll’s application.

He said workers will continue to strike regardless.

The workers are calling for better pay and conditions.

3% wage increase not enough, fight for 4%, union tells JBS workers


JBS meatworkers who have been fighting for better pay and working conditions have been urged by the union to reject the company’s latest offer.

The secret ballot will be conducted on Friday and Saturday, and will give workers the option to vote for or against a 3 per cent pay rise increase offered by the company.

The workers have been fighting for months to have a four per cent wage increase as part of their bargaining agreement, and the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union is advising workers to stick to their guns and not accept the three per cent offer.

After planned industrial action that was cancelled at the eleventh hour, the JBS meatworks in Rockhampton closed as workers walked off the job last Friday.

The union has accused JBS of treating the workers like second class citizens, and according to Rockhampton branch secretary, Brian Crawford, the company’s main competitors are increasing their employee’s wages by four per cent.

"A 'yes' vote will see these workers slip further and further behind the rest of the industry as well as slipping further behind employees working for the same company doing the same job, albeit at different locations," Crawford said.

JBS spokesman John Berry disagreed with the comments, saying comparisons are ineffective because bargaining agreements finished at different times.

The Electoral Commission will oversee the vote on Friday and Saturday.

Do you think JBS employees are justified to demand a four per cent payrise? 


Rocklea Road ahead: Darrell Lea in administration

The largest Australian confectionary retailer, Darrell Lea has gone into voluntary administration.

The company was founded in 1927 and employs about 700 people across its Sydney-based manufacturing facility and its retail network encompassing 1800 retail outlets and 69 licensed and owned stores across Australia, New Zealand and the US.

Mark Robinson, Jack Bournelis and Daniel Walley of PPB Advisory have been appointed as Voluntary Administrators of the business, following an ongoing review of the business by Directors over Darrell Lea’s ability to meet its ongoing financial obligations.

 “We are undertaking an urgent review of the business with a view to preparing Darrell Lea for sale as a going concern,” Robinson said.

“The owners of the business have agreed to provide some short term financial support whilst we undertake this process.

“We will work with all stakeholders including employees and their representatives, licensees, customers and suppliers to ensure the business continues to operate effectively.”

PPB Advisory says it will update stakeholders as soon as possible, and more information will become available at a press conference at 2:30pm this afternoon.


Toll sells refrigerated business for $6.5 million

Toll has sold its refrigerated business to Automotive Holdings Group Ltd, the owners of Rand Refrigerated Logistics for $6.5 million.

The sale was announced today on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX), and will see about 100 staff transfer to the Automotive Holdings Group.

The revenue for Toll Refrigerated’s interstate and consolidated warehousing operations in the year to 30 June 2012 is around $75 million.

The move is part of a strategic review conducted by the company in May.

“Due to the challenging market conditions and margin pressure faced by this business, we concluded that, in this case, divestment was the best option,” Toll Group Managing Director, Brian Kruger, said in the statement.

“It is encouraging that we have been able to complete the review and conclude a positive result for both parties in such a short period of time.”

Other refrigerated transport and warehousing operations provided by other businesses within the group will be retained by Toll.

Fat of the land: how urban design can help curb obesity

OBESE NATION: It’s time to admit it – Australia is becoming an obese nation. This series looks at how this has happened and more importantly, what we can do to stop the obesity epidemic.

Here Billie Giles-Corti and Carolyn Whitzman discuss ways to change our obesogenic environment through urban design while Jo Salmon looks at the role physical activity and exercise play in healthy lifestyles.

Compared with our grandparents, feeding, clothing, and entertaining ourselves has never been easier: a one-stop weekly shopping centre trip in a car, facilitated by convenient parking and light-weight maneuverable shopping trolleys that allow us to whiz around the supermarket with ease.

In fact, these days people don’t even need to leave home to do their food shopping, order takeaway food, bank or pay bills, shop for clothing or household goods, “visit” with their friends, read the newspaper or amuse themselves. Using the internet or telephone, activities that used to involve some level of activity or a short walk, can be done with “anywhere, anytime” convenience.


The internet and telephone have made life easy but it's not all good news. teoruiz/Flickr


If we couple this lifestyle of convenience with a media environment that advertises and provides an attractive array of easily-accessed, low-cost and tasty, high-fat, high-sugar foods – it’s not surprising that obesity is such a huge problem.

Australia is one of the global leaders in the obesity epidemic, with two-thirds of Australian adults and a quarter of Australian children, overweight or obese. Alarm bells are ringing in health circles about the impact this will have on all the major preventable diseases: type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. These diseases will get worse unless we can help people maintain a consistent belt size throughout their life.

Poor diet, lack of physical activity and other sedentary behaviours are the main culprits in the obesity epidemic. People choose how active they are and what they eat. But their local environments – their neighbourhood, local parks and streets, as well as their homes, workplaces and schools – provide opportunities and barriers that affect those choices.

There’s widespread agreement that we’ve created obesogenic environments that encourage both inactivity and overeating. So what can be done about it?


People are more likely to walk and cycle if they live in safe, compact, pedestrian-friendly neighbourhoods. Marionzetta/Flickr


For a start, we could improve neighbourhood design to get people out of their cars and onto the streets. People are more likely to walk and cycle if they live in safe, compact, pedestrian-friendly neighbourhoods characterised by connected street networks, access to nearby destinations such as shops and parks, mixed uses of building such as housing above shops, and high population density.

People living in the suburban sprawl walk less, drive more, and spend more time in sedentary pursuits, such as watching television or cruising on the internet, than those living in compact, pedestrian-friendly neighbourhoods. We need to plan services in new communities so that schools, shops, public transport, and parks arrive at the same time as housing – so that residents can develop good walking, cycling and public transport habits from the outset.

At the same time, we need to share the resources available in established suburbs closer to the city where there’s already good access to parks, jobs, and public transport. This means increasing the number of people who live in inner-city suburbs and giving more people access to existing shops and services.

We also need to think about quality and access to open space: parks, ovals, play grounds, and school grounds. The way open space is designed gives people cues about how it is to be used – is this open space simply for vandals and hoons, or does it say to local residents (regardless of age), “this space is open for active business, come and join in”?


The way open space is designed gives people cues about how it is to be used. Grant MacDonald


Similarly, we need to make the most of what’s called “blue space” – waterways, such as creeks, lakes, rivers and beach fronts. We know that in wealthy areas, blue spaces are opened up and invite the public to be active with walking and cycling paths, but is this true in lower-income areas?

There’s growing evidence that people who drive long distances to work are more likely to gain weight. Reducing commute times would not only be good for the environment, it would also be good for our waistlines – particularly if it involved walking or cycling to rapid public transport. This requires the right types of jobs to be available locally – what type of local business activation models could assist?

We need to give people choices so that healthy options are easy to pick – in neighbourhoods, schools and workplaces. Policies ensuring there’s plenty of fruit, water, and healthy take-away food – not just high-fat, high-salt, high-sugar alternatives – give people the opportunity to make healthier choices.

Providing access to community garden spaces encourages children and adults to develop a love of fresh food has the potential to have a positive impact on our waistlines too.


Community gardens encourage people to develop a love of fresh food. RDPixelShop/Flickr


And we need to think carefully, as a community, about how happy we are about the way unhealthy food is marketed and actively promoted so readily to children and young people. This normalises unhealthy food choices. We may need restrictions on the marketing of fast food to children in the mass media, at school and at sporting events.

These are choices to be made not only by individuals and families, but also by society. Planning and policy interventions are crucial to correct a serious market failure that is promoting unhealthy lifestyles, at the expense of the health and well-being of the nation and the future life expectancy of our children.

We have choices to make as a society. We know what we prefer – how about you?

This is part fourteen of our series Obese Nation. To read the other instalments, follow the links below:

Part one: Mapping Australia’s collective weight gain

Part two: Explainer: overweight, obese, BMI – what does it all mean?

Part three: Explainer: how does excess weight cause disease?

Part four: Recipe for disaster: creating a food supply to suit the appetite

Part five: What’s economic growth got to do with expanding waistlines?

Part six: Preventing weight gain: the dilemma of effective regulation

Part seven: Filling the regulatory gap in chronic disease prevention

Part eight: Why a fat tax is not enough to tackle the obesity problem

Part nine: Education, wealth and the place you live can affect your weight

Part ten: Innovative strat egies needed to address Indigenous obesity

Part eleven: Two books, one big issue: Why Calories Count and Weighing In

Part twelve: Putting health at the heart of sustainability policy

Part thirteen: Want to stop the obesity epidemic? Let’s get moving

Billie Giles-Corti receives funding from the NHMRC and Australian Urban Infrastructure Network. Professor Giles-Corti is a Fellow of the Public Health Association of Australia.

Carolyn Whitzman receives funding from Australian Urban Infrastructure Network and is a member of the Planning Institute of Australia.

The Conversation

This article was originally published at The Conversation. Read the original article.

AIP recognises technologists

Packaging technologists who have made a significant contribution to their specific packaging field and to the wider packaging industry, were announced at the 2012 Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP) National Conference.

Founders Award

The Founders Award has only been awarded six times in the last 50 years and is only presented to those who give outstanding performances which in a real way enhances the profession of Packaging Technology.

The 7th Awardee of the AIP Founders Award is Llewelyn Stephens, FAIP, Senior Packaging Technologist, LION.

The honour was awarded for Llew’s commitment and significant contribution to the promotion and application of packaging technology and education in industry.

AIP Life Member

Life Membership of the AIP is designed to recognise those long-standing members who have volunteered their time and passion to the continued growth of the Institute.

Life Members are people who continually go above and beyond for the AIP and for the betterment of the packaging industry.

This year the AIP has one Life Member, Richard Mason MAIP.

Richard continues to assist the NSW Division even in his retirement and has who worked in the packaging industry for over forty years.

He is on the national membership grading committee, the NSW branch committee and helps the national office on a continued basis.

AIP Fellows

The grade of Fellow is the highest professional recognition awarded to AIP Members by their peers and is designed to recognise the significant and sustained contribution these people have made to the technology, science or application to packaging in the industry. The AIP upgraded two members for 2012; Dr Roya Khalil, Senior Packaging Technologist, SPC Ardmona and Nola Porteus, Paper & Board Laboratory Manager, VISY Technology & Innovation Centre.

Robatech, Fallsdell, Proseal & Result Packaging head to AUSPACK PLUS 2013

Robatech, Fallsdell, Proseal Australia and Result Packaging are just some of the companies who will be heading to Sydney for AUSPACK PLUS 2013 and between them they will be showcasing new hot and cold glue technology, MAP in-line tray sealers and new ink jet technology.

Robatech announced that they will be displaying their advanced hot and cold glue technology on their stand during AUSPACK PLUS.

Milton Krowitz, National Sales Manager, Robatech, said that with the trend towards personalised print products, printers are finding production runs to be smaller than they have been in the past.

“Greater flexibility is therefore required in order to cost effectively manufacture these smaller runs of print products which are then packaged into folding boxes. Robatech innovative glue application system Corrutack-2 offers an ideal solution to meet this trend: It provides exceptional gluing flexibility for folding boxes as it can be easily readjusted for different types and lengths of production runs.” Krowitz said.

Error-free production with Corrutack-2

Corrutack-2 is a new system for the gluing of flaps of corrugated board and is suitable for flexo-folder gluer machines. Fixed gluing stations often impair a rapid change from top to bottom gluing, or board cut-outs block the run through the station. Corrutack-2 offers an ideal solution in such cases: The adhesive application and the glue verification take place contact-free, and the system is so flexible that it can switch very quickly from top to bottom gluing.

User-friendly gluing of liquid adhesives

CartoGlue LP, the mobile low-pressure cold glue system, enables flexible and fast utilisation on postal envelope machines, folding machines and flexo-folder gluer machines. The cold glue trolley feeds dispersion adhesive and uses up to four heads to apply it to print products and converting materials. The optional 7" touchscreen of the pattern control enables the user-friendly creation of application patterns.

According to Scott Templeton, General Manager of Proseal Australia, this will be their third consecutive AUSPACK PLUS, which is an indication of the success of the exhibition.

“Proseal Australia is very pleased to be exhibiting at AUSPACK PLUS 2013 as we see the show as a great way to showcase our machinery range and an excellent opportunity to meet new contacts and catch up with existing clients,” Templeton said.

“In 2013 Proseal will be showcasing our latest range of full vacuum MAP in-line tray sealers. The MAP in-line tray sealers are designed and built specifically for use in high-demand food production environments and the high-speed vacuum MAP machines will provide an excellent solution for many applications.” he said.      

Darren Cameron, Sales Consultant, Fallsdell Machinery, said that like other exhibitors the company is also looking forward to exhibiting at the 2013 AUSPACK PLUS.

“Fallsdell will once again be exhibiting a great range of our New Equipment as well as Equipment from our long list of Worldwide Agencies. AUSPACK PLUS is a great opportunity for us to showcase, under one roof, our full range and services to our customers and potential clients.”  Cameron said.

Michael Dossor, National Sales & Marketing Manager, Result Packaging added that they look forward to every AUSPACK PLUS as it is a major industry event.

“AUSPACK PLUS allows Result Packaging the opportunity to build our brand by showcasing our entire equipment range, and to develop new customer relationships opening the doors to more business,” Dossor said. 

“Result Packaging will be showcasing the new Leibinger’s JET3 and JET2neo which are state-of-the-art technology that will revolutionise ink jet printing," he said.

AUSPACK PLUS 2013 is a ‘must-attend’ exhibition on the Australian Packaging and Processing calendar and will be held at the Sydney Showgrounds, Sydney Olympic Park from the 7th to the 10th of May 2013.

AUSPACK PLUS is owned and presented by the Australian Packaging and Processing Machinery Association (APPMA), Australia’s only national packaging and processing machinery organisation.

To receive a prospectus on exhibiting at AUSPACK PLUS 2013, contact Luke Kasprzak, Event Manager, on PH: 02 9556 7972 or email


JBS locking workers out over industrial action

After planned industrial action last week that was cancelled at the eleventh hour, the JBS meatworks in Rockhampton will close as workers walk off the job this Friday.

Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union’s Lee Norris said the company decided to close the factory entirely for the day, rather than allowing workers to stop work for four hours.

"We regard this as a lock-out," he said.

The workers are fighting for a four per cent pay rise to be made part of their bargaining agreement.

Two weeks ago the same situation occurred, after workers announced plans to strike for four hours, and the company closed the factory for the day in response.

JBS has offered 3 per cent, which it has previously said is reasonable and fair, but workers want the company to agree to the AMIEU’s  four per cent wage increase claim.

Nestlé working to educate Ivory Coast communities to end child labour

Nestlé has officially confirmed it is involving communities in the Ivory Coast in a new effort to reduce child labour, following a Fair Labor Association (FLA) report from November 2011.

Following the release of the FLA report, which included accusations that children are employed on cocoa farms that supply to its factories, Nestlé announced it would conduct an investigation into the presence of child labour in its business.

Nestlé partnered with FLA, a non-profit organisation that works with large companies to improve working conditions at various levels of the supply chain.

Nestlé has also said that it will work with its partner, the International Cocoa Initiative, a foundation that works with the cocoa industry, civil society and trade unions, to set up a new monitoring and remedy scheme recommended by the FLA.

Nestlé announced in a media release last week that the aim of the partnerships is to involve communities in the Ivory Coast in “a new effort to prevent the use of child labour in cocoa-growing areas by raising awareness and training people to identify children at risk, and to intervene where there is a problem.”

 “The use of child labour in our cocoa supply chain goes against everything we stand for,” José Lopez, Nestlé’s Executive Vice President for Operations, said.

“As the FLA report makes clear, no company sourcing cocoa from the Ivory Coast can guarantee that it doesn’t happen, but what we can say is that tackling child labour is a top priority for our company.”

An effective strategy to eliminate the problem of child labour in the Ivory Coast needs to address and change the attitudes and perceptions of those in the cocoa supply chain and the communities where they live, the FLA report said.

“Nestlé does not own or operate farms in the Ivory Coast, but is well positioned to make a positive impact on the livelihoods of workers in the cocoa supply chain due to its leverage with its suppliers and the volume of cocoa beans it procures,” the FLA report said.

Some of the measures put in place include a monitoring and remediation scheme to be trialled in 40 communities covered by two co-operatives of cocoa farms during the 2012 cocoa harvest, with plans to include 20 more co-operatives by 2016.

This would mean about 600 communities would be involved, and would begin to change some of the attitudes.

Which Aussie farmers are game enough to create their own version of this video?

Three US farming brothers have released a hilarious parody of the popular LMFAO song “I’m sexy and I know it," changing it to "I'm Farming and I Grow it," and showcasing some of their daily routines on the farm.

The Peterson Farm Brothers uploaded their video on YouTube at the end of June and have already had over 2 million hits.

To all the Australian farmers out there, Food Magazine reckons now is your chance to create your own masterpiece about daily life on the land! Whose game?



Woollies denied liquor retail purchases

The consumer watchdog has ruled against Woolworths purchasing more liquor retailers, because it would lessen competition.

Traditionally known as a supermarket giant, Woolworths has also bought into everything from hardware, pokie machines and liquor over the years.

Earlier this year, the national secretary of the food and confectionary division of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU), Jennifer Dowell, told Food Magazine that Woolworths and Coles have extended their reach to control more markets than most consumers realise.

“The mistake that most people make in these Inquiries and things is that they look at Coles and Woollies as retailers, but they are food processors and they control the market,” she said.

“If I control a market I can just put all my own products in it, and as I have said at the inquiry, if I am mother pushing a trolley through Woollies with three screaming kids, and all they have is their own brand, I am not going to pack my kids up into the car and drive around to find non-existent corner stores that stock the product I actually want.

“They try to say they’re allowing consumers to decide, but they are making all the decisions for us, and it’s time we opened our eyes and saw that.

“If a company like Nestle came out and said “we’re going to buy a stake in Coles, and dominate the shelves with our products,” there would be uproar, it would be a huge scandal, but when the supermarkets do it, it’s a non-issue.

“That just doesn’t make sense.”

It’s been accused of damaging competition in the supermarkets sector and various others it has a stake in.

Last month, the Master Grocers Australia accused the corporation of building enormous supermarkets in regional centres, wiping out local competition.

''Master Grocers Australia believes the strategy is conscious, deliberate and intended to bring about a substantial lessening of competition in those local markets where over-large stores are developed,'' a draft report said.

And amid accusations that Coles and Woolworths are intimidating food manufacturers and produce growers so much they are too scared to even speak up at a Senate Inquiry, a leading Australian wine body publically criticised the big two last month, saying they bully winemakers too.

The power is so overbearing that Stephen Strachan would only speak publically once he had finished his role as the chief executive of the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia.

It wanted to buy a portfolio of New South Wales pubs from the Laundy Hotel Group, and while the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) ruled it could acquire 28 pubs yesterday, it has denied the plans to also purchase five takeaway liquor retail outlets.

According to the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) announcement, Woolworths purchasing 28 pubs is unlikely to substantially affect competition, while the acquisition of the five takeaway packaged liquor retailers would likely substantially lessen competition in the relevant local markets.

The deal is reportedly worth about $500 million.