WOOLWORTHS’ decision to use Australian-only fruit for its home brand canned fruit is a shot in the arm for the local industry according to grower and chair of the NSW Farmers’ Association Horticulture committee Peter Darley.
“This is a step in the right direction in response to the public demanding to buy Australian made - they are not doing this as an act of charity,” Mr Darley said.
He said while he is encouraged that the people of Orange and district have been supportive of growers and tuned into buying Australian fruit for some time, the tide is now turning in the nation’s metropolitan areas.
“People are now coming round in the big cities and recognising this has to happen or our horticultural industry will collapse,” Mr Darley said.
Woolworths says it will now source all its apple, pear, peach and apricot fruit from Australia as part of it’s new plan.
“While we acknowledge that this alone is not enough to reverse the spiraling decline of the processing fruit sector, it is a good sign,” Mr Darley said.
He said he would like to see supermarkets like Woolworths and Coles take another step and start using Australian pulped fruit concentrate.
“We have an excellent facility here in Orange for example that does that very well,” he said.
Mr Darley would also like to see the new rules apply to sliced, bagged fruit.
“To think we are buying South African sliced apples in supermarkets here is ridiculous,” he said.
Woolworths has announced it will invest a further $3 million to source all its own brand canned apples, pears, peaches and apricots from SPC Ardmona.
That follows on from an earlier commitment of $7 million to source 13 lines of canned fruit from Ardmona in August.
In June last year Coles announced a plan it intended to source more fruit and vegetables for its supermarkets that were locally grown in Australia.