Supermarket giant Woolworths is in the process of formalising plans today with SPC Ardmona to convert its branded fruit products to locally grown and processed fruit.
The move serves as welcome news to struggling growers in the Goulburn Valley region – 170 of which were informed that SPC Ardmona would no longer accept their fruit earlier this year.
The growers feared that they would have to destroy some 750,000 trees to avoid attracting vermin and disease to the area without a buyer for the fruit.
Peter Kelly, SPCA’s managing director said the decision will have an invaluable impact on the region and that it was a ‘great day’ for Victorian fruit growers, The Weekly Times Now reports.
“This commitment to Australian grown and produced products is exactly what the industry and our Australian farmers need. These are trees which may have otherwise been destroyed,” said Kelly.
“We’ve been working very productively with Woolworths in recent months to improve the competitiveness for all our Australian grown brands and this decision by Woolworths shows that they are willing to back our industry, our company and our farmers.”
According to Kelly, once Woolworths have sold through its imported stock, the supermarket will be committed to 100 percent Australian-made fruit in its products.
The announcement comes as recent research from Roy Morgan found that only 20 percent of Australian businesses have a firm policy of buying Australian-made goods.
Australian Made chief executive, Ian Harrison said that the results of the research are worrying and that the misconception that Australian products are more expensive than their imported counterparts needs to be addressed and put into a broader context.
“It is worrying to discover that the portion of companies with ‘buy local’ policies in place is so low,” said Harrison.
“Perhaps even more concerning is the percentage of businesses with no apparent inclination to reinvest back into the local business community they operate in.”
“At a time when it is clear that consumers, even government, are placing more importance on buying Australian-made, it is disappointing that businesses are not leading the way.”