Chef's call to back farmers

CELEBRITY chef and food producer Maggie Beer has taken a swipe at major supermarkets for pushing food prices lower and failing Australian growers.

In a speech last week Ms Beer, whose pate, quince paste and ice-creams sell through Coles and Woolworths, lamented ''the big two [retailers], our duopoly, that pits one against the other in price wars, that see the farmer suffer. We have to do something about that''.

Speaking after the International Year of Co-operatives conference in Port Macquarie, Ms Beer backed entrepeneur Dick Smith, who launched his own range 12 years ago to support Australian farmers against rising food imports.

''It's interesting Australians say they will support Australian-made and Australian-grown, but will we? We support what's marketed most, and we so often support what's cheapest, especially with food.

''If we don't support our farmers, we will not continue to enjoy the freshness and the diversity of the produce we have now,'' Ms Beer said.

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