In recent news reports, Australians have been warned that they will have to pay more for fresh food as the industry grapples with the fallout from the bushfire crisis. The warning came on Tuesday, following a government announcement that at least AU$100 million would be made available in the form of grants for primary producers to aid in the rebuild of property and equipment.
Agriculture minister Bridget McKenzie said about 19,000 farmers, foresters and fishers were affected and urged supermarkets to do their part to help in the recovery: “Supermarkets are letting the Australian public know that they’ll have to pay more for their red meat – yes, you will. That they’ll have to pay more for their fruit and vegetables … (and) milk.”
“It’s up to the supermarkets to not just talk about being the fresh food people, but get on with supporting in a very real and tangible way because farmers don’t grow food for free. It’s a business. I know we like to get all a bit romantic about it, but the reality is it is a business.”
She continued: “They need to make a living and that means we need to pay the cost of producing the food and through tough times such as we’re experiencing now, drought and bushfire are severely impacting input costs about farmers and now our processes in the supply chain so the other end of the supply chain needs to stump up.”
A spokesperson for Coles said in a statement to Inside FMCG that many of its suppliers have been directly impacted by the fires and drought and that the supermarket is working hard to support them during this difficult time.
In efforts to better support fresh produce farmers, Coles is purchasing fruit and vegetables “that may be out of shape, have cosmetic blemishes or be smaller than usual”.