Supermarket giant Coles has announced that from this month all its private label frozen vegetable products will be grown and packed in Australia.
The vegetable products will be sourced from Aussie farmers and packed by Australian based food processor, Simplot.
Last month Callum Elder, executive general manager of Simplot, discussed the difficulties for food companies trying to stay afloat in Australia.
''Penalty rates are a significant cost difference to manufacturers, particularly in the agricultural game where you're unable to properly plan,'' he told the Sydney Morning Herald.
''Our productivity hasn't increased in the past three to four years, as an industry, but yet we've been paying 3 to 4 per cent increases [in wages], which is a large part of the cost.
“It's very expensive to put people into Australian factories.''
Coles merchandise director John Durkan said the latest decision by Coles will make it the only Australia’s supermarket private label to offer 100 per cent Australian-grown frozen vegetables.
Coles’ total sales of frozen vegetables is almost $200 million each year, and the private label range accounts for about 20 per cent of that; more than $40 million annually.
“At a time when most other frozen vegetable brands are being sourced from overseas, we’re very pleased that, through our partnership with Simplot, we’ve been able to continue supporting Australian vegetable growers,” Durkan said.
More than 90 per cent of Coles’ private label frozen vegetable products is sourced from Tasmanian vegetable growers.
This represents over $37 million in sales for the supermarket, which growers will no doubt be hoping will be filtered down to their operations.
Simplot Australia’s Executive General Manager of Retail, Graham Dugdale has welcomed the supermarket’s decision.
“While other frozen vegetable suppliers have moved their sourcing and manufacturing off shore, Simplot Australia has continued to invest in relationships with the Australian farming community and factory capability, and is now the last remaining frozen vegetable manufacturer in Australia.
“Our strategic relationship with Coles gives consumers the choice to purchase Australian grown frozen vegetables from both ‘Birds Eye’ and Coles brand.”