Dough Down Under: Irish bread causes Aussie barney
An Irish bakery which exports some nice homely bread to Australia for the delectation of emigrants has prompted one Melbourne bigwig to storm about the place, presumably shouting “Struth!” at every opportunity.
Coles, effectively the Aussie Dunnes Stores, started importing a range of bread from the Co Offaly-based Cuisine Royale bakery on a trial basis last month.
Australia’s expat newspaper the Irish Echo reports that Cuisine Royale rolled out 17 products (including muffins, wheaten loaf and fruit soda bread) in Sydney and Melbourne – and if the trial period is successful they will get to upscale their operations to take in Australia nationwide.
The whole thing prompted an angry response from former politician Jeff Kennett, who’s clearly a bit of a fruitcake when it comes to baked goods.
Former Victoria premier Jeff Kennett. Nice coat
Kennett told the 3AW radio station last week, “This is a con. I say they are deceptive and misleading in the advertising because it creates the impression that [the bread] is fresh, but it is not.
“They will say we've disclosed that it's an imported product made in Ireland. You can't read it but it's there.”
But it wasn’t really about the labelling, was it, Jeff?
“If we have no capacity to produce primary products, we will be at the whim of large companies,” he said. “My first priority is for Australia to have Australian farms and manufacturers supply their own community.
“[Coles and Woolworths] say they support Australian manufacturing - they do not. They're driving them out of the country. We run the risk in five years of not having any food manufacturers left because ... no-one is going to invest in new technology, new plant and new equipment. It's a disgrace.”
Coles, for their part, insist that the whole thing is a bit of a storm in a loaf-tin.
Managing director Ian McLeod said, “It is a trial of one new branded bread line, and customers will decide if it stays on our shelves. Contrary to claims, Cuisine Royale is not being used to pressure local bread makers, and it has not pushed any locally-made bread off our shelves.
“Over 99 per cent of the 3.8 million loaves of bread we sell each week in Coles’ stores is made in Australia with local ingredients. That will not be changing.”
So who is Cuisine Royale?
Well they’re based in Clara, Co Offaly, but it’s no rural Irish company with limited scope – in addition to this expansion into the Australian market, they also have an office in the United Arab Emirates, while head honcho Tom Doyle was rewarded for his vision by being named Businessman of the Year at the midlandsireland.ie Gateway to Innovation and Excellence Awards last summer.
That initial Coles trial period ends this Saturday (July 14th), and we’re sure that everyone in Cuisine Royale will be thanking Jeff Kennett for giving it a serious boost in publicity over the last few days. Because there can’t be any Irish man or woman in Australia who doesn’t know all about Coles’ stock of Irish bread now, can there?
Main picture via the Cuisine Royale Facebook page