AUSSIE MADE: Rise in consumers supporting local during Covid
The movement to support local products has been reignited as a result of COVID-19 with Bundaberg consumers making a conscious effort to purchase products made in Australia over imported goods.
Since it was first formed in 1999 support for the Australian Made campaign has only increased, particularly after the pandemic highlighted Australia's reliance on imported products.
More than 3600 businesses across the country are licensed to use the Australian Made and Products of Australia logo, six of which reside in the Bundaberg region including Elements Jewellery.
Collecting natural items from gumnuts and sandalwood timber to poinciana seeds and Quandong beads, owner Beverley Whip said she has always been a passionate advocate for supporting local.
"It all started years ago when I was travelling around Australia with my husband in a caravan and we'd pick up unusual pieces from the ground that I would turn into jewellery," Ms Whip said.
"Now my son and I go for walks to collect materials or we pick up seeds that have fallen from our neighbour's trees … mother earth is so beautiful and it means my jewellery is unique and pure."
The local business owner said she has noticed a positive change in Bundaberg consumers opting for Australian made products since the pandemic hit last year.
"To be a Product of Australia the materials need to be 100% Australian which mine are - including the orange oil I use to coat the jewellery," Ms Whip said.
"I think COVID-19 has planted the seed, making more people aware of the importance of supporting locals in their own backyard and buying Australian made."
"When you buy mass made there's no feeling behind it, but there's meaning behind my products … they are one of a kind, offer a connection to nature and each piece tells a story."
And it's not just the Bundaberg region jumping on board with data from a Roy Morgan study showing 84% of Australians are more inclined to choose products with an Australian Made logo.
Furthermore nine in 10 Australians believe we should be manufacturing more products locally with 38% of those surveyed concerned by the reliance Australia has on imported goods and 26% wanting to support local and create jobs respectively.
Australian Made chief executive Ben Lazzaro said in order to use the country of origin certification trademark, businesses must adhere to the Australian consumer law and meet certain criteria.
"We are a not-for-profit organisation that operates in the commercial sector and provides premium country of origin branding to those that make and grow right here in Australia," Mr Lazzaro said.
"This organisation takes the hard work out of it for consumers so that if they see the famous green and yellow kangaroo logo, they know they can buy with confidence and that product is genuinely Australian."
Mr Lazzaro said the pro-Australian sentiment saw a significant spike in consumer interest during the June-July period with a 400% increase in monthly applications to use the certified logo, with that rise set to continue.
"We've seen steady growth in consumer preference for Australian Made products for a number of years now but that took an extreme upwards spike as the pandemic was taking hold in Australia," he said.
"The pandemic highlighted our overall reliance on imported products particularly at the start when our local manufacturers were able to start making PPE products that were in very high demand and short supply.
"Our manufacturers really shone which helped to highlight that moving forward to self-sufficiency and shifting that needle back towards local manufacturing is something that consumers are seeking.
"Businesses have also seen advantages - they are able to be far more responsive if they are making things here, their supply chains can be streamlined and they can source components from Australia that allows them to go to the market quicker."
The Australian Made chief executive said the engagement across their social media, digital platforms and online directory has also since witnessed a major increase in engagement.
"People are always pledging their commitment to buy local particularly on social media and we find Queensland is our third biggest market as far as logo users and consumers indicating their support go," Mr Lazzaro said.
"We feel confident that shift in behaviour is here to stay to some degree and time will tell whether that commitment is one that is sustained or not."
Mr Lazzaro said benefits of buying Australian products included comfort knowing components were sourced from a clean environment and made to some of the highest quality standards in the world.
He said by supporting Australian Made consumers it would keep and create local jobs and invest money back into the local economy, as well as other businesses and industries.
"Bundaberg has some distance between the bigger centres and we find passion for locally made products in places like that tend to be significantly higher because they're closer to the action - where the manufacturing and growing happens," Mr Lazzaro said.
"That means they have a more tangible understanding of those benefits and I imagine Bundaberg would fall firmly in line with that kind of thinking."
Local credited businesses under the Australian Made campaign include Elements Jewellery, Native Magic, The Door Keeper, Stones Throw Boomerangs, Bump Gates Australia and Wagtail Yarns.
For more information about the campaign, click here.