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Byron Shire
April 22, 2024

Bypass the supermarket duopoly

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Fresh produce at Byron Farmers Market.

With more and more people feeling the pressures of Australia’s cost-of-living crisis and the government launching investigations into supermarket prices, there has never been a better time to shop at your local farmers’ market.

Fair food prices have been the focus of much media attention in the past few weeks and have highlighted the benefits of supporting local farming families and small businesses.

‘The big supermarkets continue to record steep profits while the gap between their prices and what farmers are being paid is also growing. Something is clearly not right,’ says Byron Farmers Market manager Tom Carey.

With Coles and Woolworths controlling 65 per cent of the grocery market in Australia, many people, particularly those living in the city, might feel stuck for alternatives. However, in the Northern Rivers we have a number of farmers’ markets to choose from so you can bypass the duopoly and buy directly from local farmers and producers.

And unlike the supermarkets, Tom says you will not find price gouging at Byron and Bangalow Farmers Markets.

‘By shopping at your local farmers’ market, you can make your dollar count because it goes directly to the person who grows or makes your food,’ he says. ‘There are no middle-men involved or multi-million-dollar businesses, just local farmers and food businesses.’

Speaking on ABC’s Q&A about the supermarket duopoly in Australia, award-winning journalist and author Geraldine Brooks championed the benefits of shopping at farmers’ markets.

‘We as consumers have a role to play here. If you have a farmers’ market in your neighbourhood, for goodness’ sake support it because then it’s a direct relationship between you and the grower,’ she said.

‘Farmers work so hard to produce this food for us … we have to do our part and support local businesses and have a face-to-face relationship with our farmers if we can.’

Tom agrees and says people can make an impact by voting with their money.

‘At the farmers’ market, the farmers and producers are able to dictate their own prices. Everything is completely transparent. So not only are you buying the freshest produce available, because it’s locally grown and hasn’t travelled all over the country, but by buying directly you can control and know exactly where your money is going.

‘This way you are not only paying a fair price for your food, but it keeps the money in the local economy and profits go directly to local farmers and small businesses.’

Byron Farmers Market is held Thursdays 7 to 11am at Butler St Reserve and Bangalow Farmers Market is held Saturdays 7 to 11am behind the Bangalow pub.

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