Fruit growers pressure Coles to follow Woolies lead

Orchardists in Victoria’s troubled Goulburn Valley region are calling upon supermarket giant Coles to follow Woolworths’ lead by committing to source only Australian fruit for its private label products.

Woolworths’ $7 million deal with SPC Ardmona is expected to save up to 50,000 fruit trees in the region which is still a far cry from the 750,000 trees that were expected to be destroyed.

President of the Victorian Farmers Federation, Peter Tuohey has called upon both of the supermarket giants to replace all of its imported fruit with Australian produce, the Weekly Times Now reports.

"Just imagine how many more trees and livelihoods could be saved if all supermarkets committed to using local produce," VFF president Peter Tuohey said.

"I'm glad to see supermarkets are listening to farmers, the wider community and VFF."

John Wilson, chief executive of Fruit Growers Victoria said that Woolworths decision to source local fruit will serve as a strong marketing advantage over rival Coles, and hopes that Coles will soon commit to a similar deal.

"We expect it means about an extra 3000 tonnes of peaches and pears, so that's an incredible boost in the circumstances," said Wilson

"Obviously for growers who have lost their contracts it's not going to affect them, but we're really hoping Coles can follow suit.

"We see it as a major marketing advantage to Woolworths now that they've taken this public stance to support the growers and if Coles would follow that it would make a huge difference to the community."

Local communication manager for Coles, Julia Balderstone said that the supermarket has a strong track record of supporting SPC Ardmona’s products, including Goulburn Valley fruit.

"Approximately 80 per cent of Coles brand tinned fruit including peaches, pears, and apricots comes from the Goulburn Valley," she said.

"We will continue to work with SPC Ardmona to drive product sales and explore new opportunities for Goulburn Valley fruit."


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