Adelaide food distributor Robert Falzon believes it has become too hard for independent food suppliers and retailers to compete with Coles and Woolworths and “their incredible duopoly”. He believes small players are overshadowed by the dominance of the big supermarkets, so he wants to bring these businesses together as an online wholesale and retail market.
Falzon intends to do this with his new internet venture, Food Traders, to be launched in July. The site will enable food industry participants to share information as well as allow consumers to buy directly from suppliers and retailers.
“As a distributor for 12 years, I was finding it very hard to source the products I needed – it was almost impossible to locate specialty manufacturers around the country,” he says.
The venture has attracted investors from the food industry, including mushroom grower Adelaide Mushrooms and Sydney smallgoods manufacturer Pendle Ham and Bacon. The investors, including the Falzon family which will own 60 per cent of Food Traders, have tipped $250,000 into to the business.
“I would like to see existing manufacturers come on to the site to provide information about their products but I hope that new businesses will also use the site to create and build their own brands,” Falzon says. Site listings will cost $10 week and 2 per cent of online sales.
Falzon unashamedly wants his business at the very least to be an irritant to Coles and Woolworths.
“The more we push small manufacturers’ own brands, perhaps Coles and Woolworths will start changing their minds about what they’re doing [with private label products],” he says.