SPC Ardmona is expanding its range with the introduction of Australian-grown Ardmona canned cherry tomatoes onto supermarket shelves.
Working with Australian growers in Victoria’s Goulburn Valley, the launch of the Ardmona Cherry Tomatoes signifies a first for the industry, as Australians previously had access only to imported canned cherry tomato products.
The Cherry Tomatoes are launching in Independent Grocers of Australia (IGA) stores nationally. They are available on shelves at Richies Supa IGA and will be available at all other leading Independent supermarkets.
Ritchies Supa IGA CEO, Fred Harrison, said that the introduction of the Cherry Tomatoes marks a bold new step for the Australian food industry.
“Canned cherry tomatoes from Australia have been missing from shelves until now. We can finally give Australians the option to buy a home-grown product that tastes great and supports local growers,” he said.
“We’re especially proud to be first to market in Australia to stock the Ardmona Cherry Tomatoes. It’s a great sign of SPC’s commitment to supporting the Australian food industry – including growers and retailers.”
Woolworths has agreed to purchase an increased amount of tinned fruit from SPC Ardmona over the next three years, despite speculation it would end the contract early.
The Herald Sun and others report that Woolworths made the announcement on Friday night, ending a week that saw a community backlash against the rumoured decision.
Just last week SPC Ardmona lost a contract to supply tinned tomatoes to the supermarket giant and, according to managing director Reg Weine, the level of community support for the company has been “incredible”.
“Support for regional Australia, its farmers and its communities, has never been more important and SPC will continue to fight for the Goulburn Valley and for a level playing field,” he told the Herald Sun.
The new contract is for three years, and covers the equivalent of nine million cans of deciduous – falling off when mature – fruit, to be sold as Woolworths’ private label product. A separate deal for tinned tomatoes ended last week.
‘‘The vast majority of the Woolworths and SPC partnership relates to SPC’s iconic branded products — in addition to buying our fruit for their private-label franchise,’’ Woolworths’ statement read.
‘‘SPC Ardmona and Woolworths have worked collaboratively and will continue to work together to reduce costs and improve efficiency in our supply chains.’’
Entrepreneur Dick Smith has said Woolworths’ decisions to end its supply deal with SPC Ardmona was the fault of tough competition from Aldi, which could eventually run Woolworths and/or Coles out of business.
Woolworths has said it is reviewing the prices and volumes – as it does every year – for the coming season. It has not guaranteed it will continue its five-year, $70 million contract with SPC for tinned fruit, which began in 2014, and has dumped SPC as a supplier of tinned tomatoes.
Dick Smith has weighed in, telling AAP that this was the result of intense price competition from German supermarket chain Aldi, as well as the result of “extreme capitalism”.
“It’s clear that Woolworths and Coles will have to either replicate Aldi, that is, move to around 90 per cent home brand products and reduce their product selection from over 20,000 to just a few thousand, while sacking most of their Aussie employees, or they will be sent into bankruptcy,” Smith told AAP.
“There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Aldi, with its incredibly low overheads – they hardly employ any Australian staff – and its private ownership in Germany – they don’t have the high costs of public listing – will mean they will eventually send one or both of our Aussie shareholder owned food retailers out of business.”
The tinned fruit deal was announced in 2014, at a time when the survival of the Shepparton operations of SPC Ardmona – and hundreds of jobs in the Goulburn Valley – were unclear.
SPC received a $22 million Victorian government grant to upgrade its facilities at the time, with parent company Coca-Cola Amatil investing $78 million of its own money.
Woolworths has confirmed it will no longer source tinned tomatoes from SPC Ardmona in Shepparton, and won’t say whether it will continue to buy tinned fruit from the Goulburn Valley cannery.
The Herald Sun reports that a “goodwill” deal to buy SPC’s tomatoes had ended, with pressure coming from federal and state politicians for the supermarket chain to continue its five-year, $70 million contract for home brand canned fruit.
“Woolworths needs to honour their contracts. Everyone in this arrangement needs to honour their contracts,” said opposition leader Matthew Guy.
AAP reports that Woolworths is currently discussing volumes and prices for the coming season, as it does every year.
Woolworths says it remains committed to the “spirit” of the partnership, which has helps support employment of roughly 1,000, plus a similar number of indirect jobs.
As reported yesterday, Woolworths is considering the end of its five-year contract with the Coca Cola-Amatil-owned Ardmona, which was announced in 2014 while the cannery operation was fighting to stay open.
“They really got on board with the Buy Australian campaign at that time and it’s pretty cynical behaviour now two years into a deal to back out,” Shepparton independent MP Suzanna Sheed told AAP yesterday.
It received $22 million in Victorian government support from the former state government to modernise its facilities.
Supermarket chain Woolworths is reportedly considering the end of its contract with SPC Ardmona, two years into a five-year, $70 million contract.
The Herald Sun reports that the contract is under review, with unnamed industry sources suggesting Woolworths is looking to suppliers in China and India.
The deal with SPC in 2014 came when the processor’s Shepparton cannery – which supports 350 jobs directly and 650 indirectly in the Goulburn Valley – was under threat of closure.
The then-Coalition Victorian government announced a $22 million co-investment package at the time, with SPC’s parent company Coca-Cola Amatil investing $78 million of its own money to boost efficiency and innovation at the site.
The state government support could be in question, according to The Herald Sun, as this was conditional on 500 full-time jobs remaining over the five years.
“Woolworths needs to honour their contracts, everyone in this arrangement needs to honour their contracts,”opposition leader Matthew Guy told AAP this morning.
SPC Ardmona has recalled a batch of tinned tomatoes which have increased pressure and could potentially explode while being opened.
The company said in a statement the affected products were the 400g Ardmona Whole Peeled Vine Ripened Tomatoes, carrying the code TOM W/P 428580 007CM on their base.
The products were sold from Coles, Woolworths, IGA and independent supermarkets.
Anybody who has these products should throw them out immediately and contact SPC on 1800 805 168.
“No other Ardmona products, or any other SPC products, are affected,” a company spokeswoman said.