The federal government has slammed supermarket giant Woolworths for reneging on a deal with SPC/Ardmona to supply its home brand tomatoes just two years into the five-year arrangement.
Deputy Nationals leader and regional development minister Fiona Nash has called on Woolworths to honour the deal with the Australian-owned cannery.
‘Woolworths was happy to cash in on the good publicity when it announced a five-year, $70 million deal with SPC when national attention was focused on the issue. Woolworths said its sales of tinned fruit increased 48 per cent when it switched to SPC.
‘Now we learn Woolworths has already dumped SPC as a tinned tomato supplier for its Woolworths brand and we read the supermarket is in talks with SPC over the future of supplying other lines to the supermarket.
‘Woolworths should honour its word.
‘As Regional Development Minister I often say businesses and country communities need certainty. Promising a five-year deal and then reviewing it or ripping it up midway through destroys certainty. It leaves businesses and families no confidence. It plays havoc with the lives of farmers and factory families who’ve made important decisions based on Woolworths’ word.
‘The Goulburn Valley fruit grower, the cannery worker’s family and countless family businesses in Shepparton including tradies, newsagents and bakeries have all made decisions with Woolworths $70 million word in the front of their minds. To rip the rug out from under them would be appalling corporate behaviour.
‘It’s critical Woolworths keeps its promise to farmers, the Australian public, the people of Shepparton and the media.’
Woolworths had claimed in a media release its deal with SPC was a win for ‘farmers, customers and the Australian economy’
Minister Nash said buying Australian meant Australia’s clean green farmers would prosper.
‘Australia has the best food safety and environmental standards in the world. Most other countries do not have the environmental and food safety standards we have.
‘Buying Australian means clean green food for you and jobs for Australia’s regions. It means prosperous Australian farmers.’