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McDonalds sneezes and a state catches cold


The power of big business over small was demonstrated again this past week with the news that the giant McDonalds group is now to source some of its potato requirements from New Zealand. There is no supply nor quality problem with Australian potatoes. This decision is about money. Potato farms across Tasmania will be hit hard if media reports are accurate.

There any many angles to this story but the media is currently concentrating on the impact on Australian farmers. The ‘goliath’ McDonalds against the ‘david’ farmers. Predictable stuff.

This is a consumer story. Consumers create the demand in McDonalds stores by ordering fries. It is their choices which have led to the closure of many locally owned fish and chip and other mum and dad fast food stores. Okay, so these independents could not compete with the glitzy McDonalds when it arrived here all those decades ago. Some would say their closure came about as a result of competition. True enough. But here we are a couple of decades on and McDonalds control what is grown, where and what the market price is.

Who wants a fast food chain to have that control in Australia? Surely it is not good for competition.

We need to educate consumers about their role. It’s the same as the plastic bag campaign and that’s working so why not a campaign about the cost associated with supporting global brands. Global organisations are wrecking havoc on independent businesses and local communities. They are sucking money out of the country and jobs off he land. They pursue a one size fits all world which crushes creativity and pursues profit above all else.

McDonalds aren’t the only bad guys – it’s just that they are in the news because of the hurt they are inflicting in Tasmania at the moment. Starbucks are known for similar harm in the coffee world. Wal-Mart in general merchandise.

There is a mission here for small and independent business to educate the world and promote the importance and value they offer communities across the country.

Every purchase a consumer makes affects communities like the Tasmanian potato farmers. This is what the stories in the press ought to be about.

If we starve McDonalds of oxygen (sales) we fix the problem.

If we care about jobs and independence then small is beautiful. Independent businesses working together while remaining independent leverage the strength necessary to beat McDonalds at their own game. But, to repeat myself, it begins at the cash register. We have to change consumer behavior.

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By Mark