Australia-based retailer Woolworths Group has launched a AUD 30 million ($21.4 million) fund designed to help Australian farmers meet the growing demand for organic produce from consumers.
Established in partnership with Heritage Bank, the Woolworths Organic Growth Fund will allocate grants and interest-free loans over the next five years to Australian organic fruit and vegetable producers who want to expand their operations, and to farmers who want to start growing organic produce.
Farmers who receive funding will also receive contracted purchase volumes from Woolworths, which will allow Woolworths to secure the long-term supply of organic fruit and vegetables.
Woolworths Supermarkets managing director Claire Peters said: “There’s no doubt more Australian customers are choosing to buy organic and are seeking fruit and vegetables that are the product of the best of what Australia’s natural farming resources have to offer.
“In the last five years, demand has been growing at a rate of 20% year on year in the organic produce category.
“Working with Heritage Bank, the Woolworths Organic Growth Fund represents our long-term commitment to satisfying this growing consumer demand, allowing us to continue our partnership with local farmers to make sure we’re ready for future demand.
“With the assistance of the fund’s interest-free loans and grants, we can help farmers adopt innovative approaches that will enable the range of organic fruit and vegetables on offer to grow, making it more readily available and affordable for customers.”
Tasmania-based R&R Smith apple producer will be the first farm to benefit from the fund, and owner and manager of R&R Smith Andrew Smith added: “We continue to see ongoing demand for our organic apples.
“The support from the Woolworths Organic Growth fund will be instrumental in helping us develop a new organic apple variety and bring it to market – an Australian first.”
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