VICTORIA’S peak farmer organisation is urging supermarket giant Woolworths to keep its $70 million deal with fruit processor SPC Ardmona.
The Victorian Farmers Federation has voiced concerns for the future of the Goulburn-Valley fruit industry if Woolworths decides to walk away from the five year agreement after only two years.
"This deal will not only save the livelihoods of thousands of farmers and SPC employees, but it also makes good business sense," VFF President David Jochinke said.
"Consumers continue to demand Australian produce as their way of showing support for the local farming community.
"If the deal between Woolworths and SPC collapses, it will be a devastating blow to the regional economy, not to mention all the farmer suppliers and employees who depend on this local industry."
Woolworths threw the struggling processor a lifeline in 2014 by announcing it would source its Select brand tinned tomatoes from the Goulburn Valley, claiming the move as a win for farmers and the SPC workforce.
Mr Jochinke said any moves by the retailer to tear up the agreement would risk hurting its reputation among consumers who are rallying to support rural industries.
"It’s all about our farmer suppliers, regional businesses and the 2000 people they employ. Losing SPC Ardmona would cost the Goulburn Valley $165 million a year."
"If Woolworths wants to position itself to customers as a friend of farmers, then they need to make good on their commitment to fruit growers by keeping this deal.
"Because if Woolworths can’t support their Australian suppliers, why should Australian consumers support Woolworths?"