Australia: Woolworths to cut frozen vegetable imports

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Australia: Woolworths to cut frozen vegetable imports

Australian retailer Woolworths Limited (ASX: WOW) has vowed to drastically reduce frozen vegetable imports from China, Europe and New Zealand in a bid to support local growers, website reported.

The story reported that from May 2014, the supermarket chain will commit to purchasing 5,100 metric tons (MT) of frozen peas, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and mixed vegetables annually from Simplot's Davenport plant in Australia, displacing 96% of the imported frozen vegetables sold.

National vegetable peak industry body AUSVEG has applauded the move.

"This is welcome news, particularly during a particularly tumultuous time for the food processing industry. It was only earlier this week that McCain announced that it was closing its Penola potato processing plant in South Australia," AUSVEG spokesperson Hugh Gurney said in a release.

"It’s positive that both major Australian retailers have committed to sourcing more vegetable produce from Australian growers, with Coles committing in late September this year to source all of its Smart Buy frozen vegetable and potato produce from Australian growers by early 2014.

"While it is encouraging to see that more Australian vegetables will be sourced by Woolworths, it is important that this is done sustainably and that retailers will continue to support Australian vegetable growing so that growers are viable in the long-term."

For Simplot to fulfill its new contract with Woolworths, it has been reported that it will need to plant an extra 650ha of vegetables.

"This is vital assistance for Simplot’s Tasmanian growers, as the processing company earlier this year announced that it may be forced to close its Devonport plant within a number of years if its bottom line didn’t improve.

"We urge consumers to go out and actively choose these Australian-sourced products that are grown to an incredibly high standard of quality and safety by Australian families."



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