THE mayor of Buloke Shire Council says Woolworths should be supporting small communities like Donald as much as possible, rather than cutting back contracts with small suppliers.
Woolworths faced a social media backlash after its decision to stop stocking biscuits from Donald business Kooka’s Country Cookies in stores outside of Victoria and Tasmania.
But a spokesperson for Woolworths said the decision might only make a small difference to the business.
“We continue to stock a range of Kooka's Country Cookies across more than 200 stores in Victoria and Tasmania, with Victorian customers purchasing Kooka's best selling product – jam 500g – more than four times that of other states,” the spokesperson said.
“In fact, more than 90 per cent of Kooka's overall sales come from Victoria and Tasmania.
“We are committed to providing choice for customers across the biscuit category which includes access to more than 120 different plain and cream-filled sweet biscuits in all our stores.”
The supermarket giant also claimed it had a “strong history” in supporting local Australian suppliers.
Kooka’s did not respond to questions about the accuracy of Woolworths’ claims, but in its original Facebook post stated it was disappointed it could no longer provide products to its customers all over Australia.
Buloke Shire mayor David Pollard said manufacturers in the council’s small towns relied on any business they could get.
He said Woolworths’ decision to reduce the amount of product it received from Kooka’s could have flow-on effects.
“Every sale of a packet helps Donald,” Cr Pollard said.
“Even the loss of one job because of a decision like this can have a huge impact. It can cut down spending elsewhere in the town as well.
“The community relies on manufacturing. Without those jobs, these communities wouldn’t exist.”
Donald remains home to several other food and packaging businesses, as well as Kooka’s, in addition to the town’s central location for the grains industry.
Cr Pollard said it was important people in large regional centres like Bendigo continued to support businesses from small towns.
“I’m hoping people in Bendigo are aware Kooka’s is a Donald business, and they go and buy a packet,” he said.