Fruit grow­ers push buy lo­cal cam­paign

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Perth Hills -

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.”

Pic­ture: David Baylis

Vic­tor Far­cic with a tray of lo­cal stonefruit.

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