Fruit growers push buy local campaign
STONEFRUIT growers in the Perth Hills have joined forces with a Canning Vale Markets wholesaler to launch a campaign promoting WA stonefruit.
Mercer Mooney general manager Victor Farcic, celebrity horticulturalist Sue McDougall and a group of growers, including Libby Carruthers, from Carmel’s A Giumelli & Sons, and Pickering Brook’s Roma Spiccia, have privately funded the drive to support the stonefruit industry, which forms a significant part of WA’s $300 million in annual fruit production.
Mr Farcic said about four years ago, WA retailers had been allowed for the first time to import stonefruit from other states and this had created a glut that had forced down prices.
Mr Farcic sells produce from about 360 Australian growers, but keeps his stonefruit strictly from WA, representing the efforts of about 30 growers from the Hills, Carnarvon, Gingin and the South-West.
“It’s a lot tastier as far as I’m concerned,” he said.
“It’s definitely fresher, because what gets picked today will be sold tomorrow morning.
“Eastern states fruit could be two weeks old by the time it gets to the retailer.”
He said the returns WA growers were getting were creating a situation in which it was hardly worth being in business.
“If it costs $8 to produce a tray of peaches and it sells from around the same, they’re not making any money,” he said.
“How long can they sustain that?”
He said most major super- markets identified Australian fruit but did not differentiate by state, which was well within their rights, but was why the Taste the Difference campaign was targeting independent retailers, encouraging them to stock and identify WA produce.
Promotional materials include tags to show shoppers they are buying WA fruit, as well as pamphlets and posters.
Mr Farcic hoped members of the public would do their bit by asking retailers for WA fruit and trying to buy local when possible.
“I’ve been doing this for 33 years and I’ve seen what growers go through; it doesn’t get any easier,” he said.
“This is our way of trying to keep our industry sustainable and keep a new generation of growers coming through.”
Victor Farcic with a tray of local stonefruit.