Box Divvy, the community solution to inflated supermarket prices

Box Divvy, the community solution to inflated supermarket prices
Image: Box Divvy farmer, Brad Johnson. Image: Supplied.

by GRACE JOHNSON and SYDNEY BALDWIN

 

Box Divvy, a grassroots movement, is challenging supermarket with transparent pricing, and by connecting customers directly with farmers and food producers. 

The community-led solution highlights alternatives to supermarket shopping amid escalating costs and allegations of supermarkets’ price gouging, amid the ongoing Senate inquiry into supermarket pricing practices.

Its 12,000 members pay 30 per cent less than supermarket prices, with farmers paid 60 cents to the dollar (most farmers earn only 30 cents).

Box Divvy co-founder Anton van den Berg said, “Price transparency is a powerful way of keeping retail prices in check: if a retailer is paying $1 for a bunch of spinach, and is forced to share this information with shoppers, it is less likely to charge $4 retail as is currently the case.”

Anton and Jayne van den Berg at the farm. Image: Supplied

Local community members, known as “Hubsters”, run food hubs from their house, or local community centres and churches. The efficient distribution system results in lower operating costs, allowing them to pass savings on to members.

Additionally, the organisation discloses the prices paid to growers and suppliers for every product, along with the supplier’s name for verification.

Box Divvy consists of Food Hubs located at houses, local community centres/groups and fundraisers for schools or scouts. They are run by a local community member, known as a “Hubster.”

A Box Divvy hub. Image: Supplied.

 

Rozanna Lee, who runs a large hub in Chatswood, catering to the needs of 50 families, spoke to City Hub of the “personal touch” that Box Divvy provides.

“Each hub builds up its own community and a spirit of camaraderie,” she said. “And we know that we’re getting the food directly from farmers, so it’s of extremely high quality and hasn’t been sitting in a storeroom for six months, and that they’re being paid properly.” 

“There’s also less waste in packaging,” she continued, noting that produce is packed to order. 

Box Divvy also aims to fight back against the mounting pressures of supermarket giants, especially as profit margins shrink and production costs rise. Small-scale and family-run operations are at particular risk.

All hands on deck with the Camillieri family. Image: Supplied.

Mark Kay, a farmer and agent for farmers, said  “Big supermarkets often pay farmers too little for their products, barely enough to cover the costs of growing them.”

“It would be better if more farmers stood up against these unfair prices, but they worry about selling enough for the whole year,” he continued.

“However, there’s hope with programs like Box Divvy. They negotiate fair prices and appreciate the hard work we farmers put into our crops.”

Box Divvy farmers, Daniel and Jason Vella. Image: Supplied

In the case of anti-competitive behaviour, the Senate Committee has recommended the potential break-up of supermarket chains. Box Divvy has voiced concerns surrounding the possible negative impacts that this could have.

“Breaking up a supermarket chain may sound easy, but in practice, it is very difficult to accomplish – and it is likely to leave regional and rural areas worse off,” said van den Berg. 

“By contrast, the Committee failed to recommend one of the easiest and most effective measures: forcing supermarkets to publish the farmgate price paid for each product to farmers and suppliers on the same shelf ticket that displays the retail price,” he continued. 

“If a small player like Box Divvy can do this, supermarkets – with their army of accountants and IT staff – should be able to be price transparent. If it wants to.” 

 

You May Also Like

Comments are closed.