Could growth in one of Australia’s largest healthy food brands mean more opportunities for fruit and veg growers?

One of Australia’s leading health-focused food brands says every customer is currently on a journey

One of Australia’s leading health-focused food brands says every customer is currently on a journey of better eating, so it makes sense that retailers become focused on providing healthier more sustainable options to meet that demand.

Macro Wholefoods Market General Manager Peter Hathaway recognises that this means that the opportunities are immense, not only for Woolworths supermarket, which is the exclusive retailer of the brand, but also fruit and vegetable producers who help supply the products.

“It is increasingly clear from our point of view that all customers are on this journey; some are further down the pathway, but all Australians are actively choosing better,” he said. “That wave is rolling through and getting bigger. So, it is on everyone’s radar; from the board to our buyers, to our stores, Macro is at the epicentre of our strategy. We are so driven to be pushing and developing the Macro brand to realise its ambition because, in Australia at least, there is no brand that spans the scope of the offer that Macro Wholefoods Market does.”

Photo: Peter Hathaway from Macro Wholefoods Market 

As well as Macro’s large organic fruit and veg range, the brand also has products in the long-life pantry, meat and proteins, wholefoods, snacking and has just launched cleaning products. Currently, six million Australians buy into the Macro brand and Mr Hathaway says the growth will create opportunities for fresh produce companies.

“Macro will continue to be a beacon across all categories, and become something much better,” he said. “We have a big offer in fresh and wholefoods that are grown here in Australia, in addition to the products that we put into our longer-life items. We are looking to work with more (supply companies) through our fresh teams. Macro is experiencing double-digit growth and has been for the past decade – and it continues to do so. It is quite an indication of where the customers’ sentiment is. Traditionally, the brand has over-indexed with our premium customers, but it is interesting over the past twelve months we have seen a huge spike in mainstream/core and even budget customers who are purchasing into the Macro brand.”

The Macro brand is one of 105 that are owned/managed by the Woolworths Food Company, which represents around $13billion in sales. Supplier Relations Manager Rob Mustow noted several trends across the company that supports growth in the “healthy foods” category, and some have accelerated since the COVID-19.

“COVID was an unusual time, and remains an unusual time for everyone, which is probably a bit of an understatement,” he said. “If we look at the trends as we come through COVID and into a post-COVID world, value is as important as it ever was. Convenience is tomorrow’s friction, so here we are referencing our meal solution offers. We’re moving towards healthy Aussies and kids, and this is where our Macro range takes centre stage. The conscious customer is here to stay, so that means planet-friendly products, packaging and sustainability.”

Photo: Rob Mustow from Woolworths Food Company

But while there is strong support for the Macro brand already, Mr Hathaway admits that there is a need for greater transparency for consumers to strengthen trust and show why each product is better than the conventional alternative.

“We want to tell the truth and the whole truth, not go down the eco-washy-ness, like many brands do – it’s getting to be a hyperbolic world out there,” he said. “We will be telling the stories of our suppliers and answer: How ethical is the supply? How do customers consume it? How does it make their lives better? How do we create/reduce the packaging? Why is it sustainable and better for you? These are all things that are concerning customers.”