Food canning company SPC Ardmona is appalled by the lack of support being provided by the Federal and Victorian Governments for the Australian food industry.
SPCA Managing Director Peter Kelly met with federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane on Tuesday to discuss a $25 million federal rescue and restructuring package for SPC. Mr. Kelly wants the government to walk their talk about the country’s future viability as a food bowl for Asia.
No government-owned institutions such as hospitals, jails and parliaments are instructed to buy Australian-grown and made food as a priority.
“Our own government is not buying our products, and it makes me very angry . . . The Australian government should be supporting Australian farmers and businesses; how can we ever become a fresh and processed food bowl for Asia otherwise?” Mr Kelly said in a report on The Australian.
“The biggest win for us would be to get Australian health departments – they run the hospitals and care centres – to buy Australian fruit, not imported cans; yet our market share, and that of all Australian products, in those institutions is very small.”
“Instead, they are some of the biggest importers (of processed fruit and food).”
Aside from government institutions purchasing Australian-grown and made food products, Mr. Kelly also wants the government to include canned SPC fruit in foreign aid donations, saying any small policy change that will increase demand for traditional SPC canned fruit products will help the livelihood of farmers in the Goulburn Valley and support factory jobs.
“We are at five minutes to midnight; it is time for us to play hardball and point out everything that is not right and fair in the way farmers and the food industry is treated in this country,” he said.
Last month SPCA and major retailer Woolworths announced a partnership to convert the supermarket chain’s own brand packaged fruit category to 100% Australian-sourced product.
“This commitment to Australian grown and produced products is exactly what the industry and our Australian farmers need,” said Mr. Kelly.
“The volume generated by this decision from Woolworths equates to approximately 50,000 fruit trees per year in the Goulburn Valley. These are trees which may have otherwise been destroyed.”
Since the partnership commenced SPCA has sold 890,000 tins of Australian fruit in its Woolworths. This figure represents a 38 per cent increase nationwide.
According to The Australian report the growth in sales has enabled the food processing company to increase its orders for fruit from the 118 local orchards it still has contracts with by 15 per cent. This is despite the fact that Woolworths’ Australian-only policy will only come into full effect late next year.