The Australian vegetable industry has welcomed Woolworths’ newly announced deal with one of Australia’s few remaining fruit and vegetable processors, SPC Ardmona, to supply an extra 24,000 tonnes of fruit, tomatoes and navy beans for its Select range of products. The partnership, worth $70 million, will see the tonnage of Australian grown tomatoes supplied to Woolworths by SPC triple over five years.
“This deal is a huge win for Australian fruit and vegetable growers who have seen vegetable processing plants shutting their doors in droves over the past three years, due to issues which include the dumping of foreign product,” said AUSVEG spokesperson, Hugh Gurney.
AUSVEG is the leading horticultural body representing Australia’s 9,000 vegetable and potato growers.
The move follows similar recent contracts between vegetable processor Simplot and major supermarkets Woolworths and Coles, who are now sourcing 100% of their respective Select and Smart Buy frozen vegetable lines from Australian growers. ALDI also sources its 825g canned fruit range from SPC.
“It is great to see retailers responding to the demands of Australian families to see more locally grown product on their shelves and on their dinner tables,” said Mr Gurney.
The Federal Government’s Anti-Dumping Commission recently found that SPC had experienced considerable damage as a result of imported Italian canned tomatoes being dumped on Australian shores.
“We hope that initiatives like this deal will help to mitigate the devastating toll that cheaply produced dumped foreign product has taken on our growers and processors,” said Mr Gurney.
SPC has recently seen a massive surge in demand for its locally grown products, following a passionate social media campaign driven by consumers using the hashtag #SPC.
“We urge Australian consumers to continue their support of Australian growers by turning their tweets into action and continuing to buy more Australian-grown produce.
“AUSVEG would urge all Australian retailers to expand the amount of product they source from Australian growers, particularly in processed lines such as canned and frozen fruit and vegetables.
“The equivalent of 86,000 extra fruit trees will be required as a result of the new partnership, which is outstanding, considering only months ago fruit growers were tearing down orchards after their contracts were cut.
“The deal will also allow SPC Ardmona to increase its productivity and introduce new innovative products to the market using top quality Aussie produce.
“AUSVEG encourages all food retailers to get behind our major vegetable processors to source their fresh and frozen vegetables from Australian growers,” said Mr Gurney.
Posted 11 March 2014