In a recent survey, Roy Morgan found that business owners and decision makers from a cross-section of Australian industries are showing a preference for Australian-made products, with more than four in five shopping locally where possible.

The research revealed that business owners are driven to buy Australian products by the perception that they are of higher quality and better value for money, and according to Australian Made Chief Executive Ben Lazzaro, this desire to shop local has long-term benefits for Australian communities.

“Businesses know that by buying Australian, not only do you get products manufactured to some of the highest quality and safety standards in the world, you also help to create local jobs, strengthen local manufacturing capabilities and access to local customer service and after-sales support. You also get the certainty of local delivery timeframes in an uncertain global shipping market.”

The prioritisation of Australian-made products in liquor retail is having a positive impact on the broader market, and Vanessa Wilton, Co-Founder of Manly Spirits, says continued support for domestic producers will result in increased availability and supply chain resilience.

“Supporting Australian-made liquor helps stimulate the local economy by generating employment and economic activity. This can have a positive ripple effect on other businesses in the community and overall living standards,” she said.

Beyond the economic contribution, this buying trend also poses environmental benefits and export potential.

“Australian-made products typically have a lower carbon footprint due to reduced transportation distances. Retailers can capitalise on the environmentally conscious consumer segment by highlighting the eco-friendly aspects of stocking locally made liquor,” added Wilton.

“By supporting Australian-made liquor, retailers contribute to the growth of local manufacturers. As these manufacturers expand and improve their products, there is potential for exporting Australian liquor overseas, bolstering the economy.”

As Licensee and Director of Elizabeth Bay Cellars, Nicole David has found that Australian-made products are competing strongly against countries that have previously cornered the market.

“The Australian wine production industry has for quite some years now really been able to compete with the European market in terms of quality, it’s great to be able to support that local market and know that the quality is so good, and in many cases, even better.

“We are finding that other products such as craft beers and spirits are also really coming along in leaps and bounds. There are so many small boutique producers who are coming out with absolutely fantastic products that are made with high quality, locally sourced raw products,” she added.

“We have such incredibly high standards in terms of the quality of raw products in Australia and it really shows in the finished products, particularly around sustainability and minimal intervention.”

Consumer influence

As consumers become better educated, and their demand for Australian-made produce grows, there is no doubt that that this is influencing businesses’ purchasing decisions.

“Consumers are now leading their own story and their palates have developed. Consumers are now looking at things like sustainability, minimal mileage, smaller producers, high quality raw products, and a growing appreciation of artisan products. They know that these things are all available in Australian-made products,” says David.

Wilton added: “There is a rising trend of consumers wishing to support their country’s economy by purchasing domestically produced goods. Retailers can tap into this sentiment, attracting consumers who prioritise buying local products.”

In speaking to National Liquor News for the 2024 Industry Leaders Forum, Kathleen Davies, Founder of Nip of Courage, explained that a noticeable rise in demand for Australian spirits comes from an appreciation for authenticity and craftmanship.

“We think it is important to highlight the exceptional quality and distinctiveness of Australian craft spirits. To emphasise that these spirits are meticulously crafted in small batches, using locally sourced ingredients and traditional production methods,” she said.

These behaviours are also influencing demand within the beer category, but according to Michael Shearer, General Manager of Coopers Brewery, there is still significant room for industry education, especially pertaining to the differences between Australian-made and Australian-owned.

“Our own recent research revealed a strong preference among Australian drinkers for locally brewed and owned beer. We found that 70 per cent of Australian beer drinkers are actively seeking out locally brewed and owned beers with six in 10 preferring to spend on Australian-made and -owned beer brands when buying beer in a pub, club or restaurant.

“Yet, at the same time, we’ve seen further consolidation in the industry,” he continued.

“Australian-made and Australian-owned are not the same thing when it comes to beer. Many people would be surprised to learn that a large number of local breweries, as well as some of the larger craft brands, are foreign owned.

“It is worth checking before you buy. In buying Australian made and owned beer, drinkers are ensuring their money isn’t leaving our shores but staying right here in Australia and supporting the local industry.”

Economic challenges

Under rising cost-of-living pressures, consumers are driven not only by quality, but value, and Australian producers are well equipped to deliver on these demands by offering high quality products at competitive prices.

Despite current economic pressures, Roy Morgan research found that financial strain was not having a negative impact on businesses’ decisions to buy locally, with 89 per cent of Australian businesses still purchasing the same amount of Australian-made products, if not more, than they were in May 2022.

Through challenging economic times, Shearer acknowledges that retailers play an influential role in connecting consumers with local producers and facilitating consumer education.

“There is no doubt that cost-of-living pressures, high operating costs and excessive beer taxes are presenting many challenges for breweries big and small. Unfortunately, we are regularly hearing of craft breweries across the country succumbing to this.

“It’s never been more important that Australians continue to get behind the beer industry. During the pandemic there was a strong push to support local and that trend has continued.

“In our mind, stocking Australian-owned beer is providing consumers with the choice to buy great tasting beer and support independent Australian breweries in the process,” he said.

A turning point

There are many external factors that influence purchasing decisions within businesses, and although changing tastes and preferences provide an incentive for retailers to stock local produce, they are not the only influential factor.

Wilton noted that pandemic-related disruptions represent a key turning point in shopping habits, contributing not only to a change in consumer attitude, but also having a direct impact on product availability and market diversification.

“The pandemic disrupted global supply chains, leading to logistical challenges in importing international brands. This forced consumers to explore and rely on locally produced goods, providing an opportunity for Australian brands like Manly Spirits to gain traction in the market,” she concluded.

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