Following the floods, bushfires and a global pandemic, Australian small businesses have struggled to stay open. However as Australian consumer interest in locally made and sourced products rises, there could be light at the end of the tunnel for many passionate Australia business owners. Aussies take pride in Australian made, but buy local products, not just Australian ones.
Initially the ‘buy local’ concept focused getting communities to spend $20AUD a week with a local business. This concept developed as the COVID-19 pandemic forced businesses to close and bought imports to halt. Prioritising how Australia could support itself and come out the other end.
Manufacturers around the country stepped up, retooled and repurposed their factories to meet the nations demands. For example, when masks, personal protective equipment and hand sanitiser became some of the hottest items around, and demand outstripped supply, and local businesses pivoted to respond.
For Ben Lazzaro, Chief Executive of the non-profit Australian Made Campaign, COVID-19 meant ‘love local’ suddenly took on a different perspective.
He went on to say, “the pandemic very quickly highlighted our over-reliance on imported product and provided an impetus to address that imbalance.”
“I think it brought it home to a lot of us that the way we choose to spend our money can have an impact on Australia’s self-sufficiency as well as our economic future.”
At the end of 2020, 26% of surveyed Australia Post customers say they’re trying to buy more from Australian companies than previously.
Choosing local produce and food as well as manufactured goods creates new jobs as it strengthens local economies – and people are starting to think more in terms of value than simply product price.
Although there will still be a demand for imported products and Australia does not need to create EVERYTHING onshore, as consumers if we are more conscious of our buying habits and prioritise locally sourced and produced products, our communities will benefit from this change.
Australia Made’s, Lazzaro says, “we’ll always need some imported products, but we need to move the needle further towards local manufacturing.
Families benefit from having access to products from all over the world and if we limit our options it would result in significant increases in prices that are at a substantial burden on many Australian families.
For the Black Lab team, the COVID-19 lockdowns of 2020 highlighted the advantages of being a local manufacturer not not just an importer and understanding our capabilities and limitations as an onshore manufacturer.
Bill Lang, Director of Small Business Australia, states the ‘buy local, support local’ initiative is imperative to the sustainability of Australia’s economy.
“Small, local business owners, beyond being the economic backbone of the country and the major employers in Australia, are the hearts and souls of their communities. Who provides work experience for high school students? Who sponsors the local footy club? Who provides the part-time job for uni students, or for families where part-time work is needed?”
By choosing to buy local products, consumers are helping their communities, the economy and ensuring Australia relies on ourself first.