A West Australian fruit grower says he has been forced to dump 30 tonnes of nectarines because many major supermarkets are opting for fruit from the eastern states.
Roleystone fruit grower Peter Casotti said he lost between $50,000 to $100,000 of fresh fruit when retail giant Coles decided to buy fruit from interstate rather than source it locally.
He says he has had enough of the situation.
“If fruit growing keeps going like this, it will become unviable,” Mr Casotti said today.
“We just aren’t making the money we used to, and when we are given the opportunity supermarkets rip it away from us.
“The thing is, it’s not just Coles, it’s most supermarkets, it’s Woolworths, IGA, even local fruit markets.
“I think it’s time to say something, the industry needs a good shake up and we farmers are basically being treated as 21st century peasants.”
Hills Orchard Improvement Group spokesman Brett DelSimone said this was not an isolated incident. Many farmers were suffering but felt they could not speak out against the supermarkets.
“Coles is increasingly leaving WA produce sitting in the cool rooms to dump, and that makes no sense,” he said.
“WA’s farms are the only place that can provide fresh fruit and veg on the shelves within days of being picked, and still they’re going with eastern states farmers.
“The relationship between Coles and WA farmers is taking an impact. It’s a big thing to stand up to Coles, and most farmers won’t risk it.
“For Peter Casotti to stick his head up is very courageous of him.”
Mr DelSimone said Coles took advantage of the fact consumers were not told where the fruit was grown.
A Coles statement said 85 per cent of stone fruit on the shelves was grown in WA.
“We are working with our suppliers to increase the proportion even further,” the statement said.
“Our stone fruit season did finish earlier in WA than other states this year due to quality issues.”