Woolworths Supermarkets are a common site Down Under, where locals call them Woolies. They are the biggest grocery realtor in Australia, with over $42 billion in annual revenue.
Citing rising demand for organic produce as the reason, the company is launching a $30 million fund that will help farmers “improve the quality, range and volume of organic products.”
The Woolworths Organic Growth Fund will provide interest-free loans and grants to eligible Australian farmers. Plus, the company will contract with selected producers to purchase dedicated volumes of their organic produce, providing a stable market — critical to anyone, anywhere growing perishable, value-added products.
The Managing Director of Woolworths Supermarkets Clair Peters points to five years of steady growth in consumer demand for organic produce, with a 20% average annual, year-to-year increase in sales.
Woolworths hopes this fund will “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.”
While organic demand has also been rising in the U.S., organic farmers, e.g. apple growers, face similar challenges. Fortunately, in Australia, the U.S., and across Europe, some retailers are stepping up to fill an investment void created by a complex combination of hurdles standing in the way of more rapid transitions to organic fruit and vegetable production.
Hopefully some of the forward-thinking, big players in the U.S. grocery retail business will pay attention to, and apply lessons learned around the world in the nuts and bolts of supporting the transition to predominantly organic-food chains and supplies.
Farm Online News, “Woolies launches fund to meet organic demand,” Reprinted online by: North Queensland Register, October 18, 2018.