The WA Great Southern region will exclusively supply Coles with its “Coles Finest” free range pork under a deal with Milne AgriGroup (MAG).
As part of the deal, MAG farmers will supply the Coles brand pork to over 700 supermarkets around the country, ABC Rural reports.
Under the new deal, MAG will increase free range pork production threefold, with eight Great Southern pork businesses signing up to supply around 1,200 pigs for slaughter each week by mid-2015.
“We've developed a model that's ideally suited to the Great Southern region. There are very few areas in Australia that have this sort of climate and soil type,” said MAG managing director Graham Laitt.
The Great Southern region of Western Australia, which is predominantly a grain growing area, runs south-east of Perth down to the coastal city of Albany.
“Let’s face it, traditionally the big supermarket chains source from the east coast where there's larger volume produced and Coles has actually moved its entire production of free range pigs into Western Australia and sourcing it exclusively from this region,” Laitt said.
“It gives them (farmers) an access route to market for a differentiated branded product.”
This is the first time in Australia where pork from local WA suppliers, accredited by the Australian Pork Industry Quality Assurance Program and endorsed by the RSPCA, will be sold nationally.
General manager of production at Coles, Allister Watson, said the retail giant has a “great relationship” with farmers.
“We've got a four-year contract with MAG and options to extend that.
“We want to put more farmers on the ground in WA and want to produce more Australian pork.
“It's all based on consumer demand and requirement. We're seeing a lot more demand from consumers for an understanding where their product comes from, how it's grown and the animal welfare aspects of growing livestock before it becomes meat.”