Australian government departments buying overseas packaged fruit products are still letting the fruit industry down, SPC Ardmona managing director Peter Kelly told Goulburn Valley growers last week.GEOFF ADAMS December 3, 2013 7:01am
Australian government departments buying overseas packaged fruit products are still letting the fruit industry down, SPC Ardmona managing director Peter Kelly told Goulburn Valley growers last week.
Mr Kelly said while the company had success in convincing Australian supermarkets to take on more of their product, he was frustrated at the difficulty in getting government departments to give a preference to Australian product.
The company has only a small share of a large market with departments like health and corrections.
Mr Kelly outlined what the company had been doing to improve market share at the meeting held on Wednesday at Mooroopna.
Fruit Growers Victoria deputy chair Gary Godwill said it was sad to see that while commercial enterprise had come on board, government departments were still not buying Australian fruit.
He said Mr Kelly had described to the meeting how departments and political leaders had passed the buck and fobbed them off when representations were made.
Fruit Growers Victoria general manager John Wilson said it was the first grower meeting in some time when there was no new bad news delivered by SPC Ardmona.
Mr Kelly told the growers the company was getting strong support from its employees who were aware of SPC Ardmona’s precarious position.
The company was still pursuing its applications for $50 million from state and federal governments in a co-investment plan to improve efficiency and automation in the factories.
SPC Ardmona has promised to match government grants with $90 million of its own.
The company is headed into its first season since slashing its supplier numbers and there was little discussion at the meeting about processing volumes and prices.
SPC Ardmona is seeking only about 2600 tonnes of apricots this year, compared to 4300 tonnes last season.
The company said it was left with too much carry-over from last year’s processing.
Cobram grower Tony Latina asked whether SPC Ardmona was doing anything for the delisted growers, but Mr Kelly said it wasn’t.
Mr Latina, representing the Victorian Peach and Apricot Growers, said while SPC Ardmona talked about how supermarkets should support SPC Ardmona, there was no policy that SPC Ardmona should support former growers.
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