Home' Grower : April 2010 Contents 6
The South Australian Grower -- April 2010
Imports dominate frozen veg
AUSTRALIANS have a clear preference to buy
Australian-grown vegetables over imported
ones, but that choice could be a thing of the
past. In a Newspoll survey, nine out of 10
Australians said they preferred frozen
vegetables that come from Australia
compared to other countries such as China,
the United States and New Zealand. However,
Australian grown frozen vegetables are under
threat with frozen food brand Birds Eye the
last company processing vegetables for
Australian growers. The survey highlights the
importance of local food processing and
clear-cut country of origin food labelling. In
order to promote its Australian-grown
qualities, Birds Eye has created a new symbol
to alert shoppers that they are buying are 100
per cent Australian grown.
Source: International Business Times
Aust now citrus 'canker-free'
THE citrus industry's five-year battle to be
recognised as free from canker disease is
now complete. Europe-bound exports from
Australia's north had to be disinfected after a
2004 canker outbreak in Queensland. But the
EU has now agreed to recognise all of
Australia as free from the disease. Citrus
Australia spokesperson Judith Damiani said
the change will cut costs for growers. "It's
very welcome news, a big relief for our
industry to be finally recognised globally as
canker-free after the devastating experience
we went through over the last five years," Ms
Damiani said. "It reduces the need for any
treatment for that particular fruit to the EU."
Source: ABC Rural
By ASHLEY WALMSLEY
Good Fruit & Vegetables*
SHALLOW, inconsistent and a costly
public relations exercise -- that was how
Australia's vegetable industry represen-
tative group summed up the major super-
markets' new ethical sourcing policies.
Ausveg has taken a swing at Coles and
Woolworths over their ethical auditing and
quality assurance programs, suggesting they
are playing the role of government and sim-
ply increasing regulations on farmers.
But the big two are having none of it, claim-
ing they use a standard sourcing policy for
both domestic and international suppliers.
In a statement released in March, Ausveg
said it was "seriously concerned" about the
application of ethical sourcing policies on
overseas suppliers compared to domestic
suppliers, following meetings with Coles
and Woolworths regarding the policies.
Ausveg chief executive officer Richard
Mulcahy said the organisation sought
answers from both Coles and Woolworths on
the application of ethical auditing and quality
assurance programs with overseas suppliers.
Despite detailed briefings, Mr Mulcahy
Ausveg has taken a swing at Coles and Woolworths over their ethical auditing and quality
assurance programs, suggesting they are playing the role of government and simply increasing
regulations on farmers.
was left unconvinced about the benefit of
"These audits seem like a costly public
relations exercise. Woolworths claimed that
the drive for ethical sourcing was from con-
sumers," Mr Mulcahy said.
"Yet if they are so concerned about con-
sumers why do they continue to import
vegetables from overseas when Australian
consumers consistently say they would pre-
fer to buy locally grown produce?
"Any reasonable person can see that there
are issues with these policies in terms of
their application in foreign countries com-
pared to Australia.
"Perhaps a supplier in Communist China
will be compliant with the local law but it is
not fair to say that they are treating their work-
ers in the same manner as Australian growers."
According to Woolworths, 97 per cent of
its fresh produce is Australian grown, with
the company a policy of a policy of only
importing fresh produce when it is out of
season or there is a lack of local supply.
Woolworths spokesperson Benedict Brook
said in these instances the overseas suppliers
must meet the same Woolworths Quality
Assurance standards -- including ethical
audits as domestic suppliers.
"All products are labeled with their coun-
try of origin which allows consumers to
make an informed choice," Mr Brook said.
"Frankly, it would be disappointing if any
Australian grower failed an ethical audit as
Australia has a strongly regulated market
with clear workers' rights.
"However, our customers want to be reas-
sured that we are taking active steps to
ensure ethical standards are being met, just
as they want reassurance food quality stan-
dards are being met."
A supplier fact sheet on Coles Ethical
Sourcing from February this year describes
the practice as "a commitment to the pur-
chase of goods and ser vices that are manu-
factured and provided in a way that does
not involve exploitation or represent a dan-
ger to health, safety or the environment."
It also details Coles' expectations of its
"All suppliers are required to complete a
Supplier Self-Assessment form and have it
returned by email to the Coles Ethical
Sourcing Co-ordinator within 30 days of it
being communicated," the fact sheet said.
"Additionally, 'high-risk' suppliers, within 12
months of being communicated, are expected
to either provide Coles with evidence of a
mutually recognised audit, or undergo a social
compliance audit for the facilities used in the
production of Coles products."
High risk suppliers are described as those
located in developing countries which
excludes North America, Europe, Australia,
New Zealand, Japan, and any other
Organisation for Economic Co-operation
and Development member countr y.
"In addition, Coles may request a supplier
operating in non high-risk regions
(Australia and other OECD member coun-
tries) to undergo a third-party ethical audit
if an ethical issue has been identified. The
supplier will be notified in such circum-
stances," the fact sheet said.
Mr Mulcahy said such policies place fur-
ther regulations on Australian growers who
already comply with state and federal laws,
while growers overseas are exporting pro-
duce into Australia.
"Australian growers are inundated with
audits and paper work from state and feder-
al government departments and bureau-
crats," he said.
"The last thing they need is the retailers
running around acting like another govern-
ment department. It is unnecessary and
adds further input costs that make it harder
for growers to compete with imports."
* Good Fruit & Vegetables is Rural Press' national
Foreign regulations questioned
Use of imports criticised
Suppliers' risk analysed
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