The Coles supermarket group is expecting to have an extra 1.8 million cans of Australian fruit packed under the Coles Brand every year after signing a new supply deal with SPC in northern Victoria.
The two-year partnership with SPC at Shepparton in the Goulburn Valley involves Coles introducing a new $2 range of preserved fruit in 825 gram cans - including 100 per cent Australian peaches, pears and apricots.
Coles brand head, Mark Field, said as part of Coles' Australia-first sourcing policy, the company was always looking for opportunities to work with Australian food growers and manufacturers to deliver great quality local products to customers.
SPC is one of Australia's oldest providers of preserved fruit.
"Coles is proud to work with an iconic Australian company such as SPC and local growers to offer products with Aussie-grown fruit," Mr Field said.
"We know our customers want top quality food, and equally they want to know that they are helping to support Australian farmers and Australian jobs."
The deal follows SPC's parent company Coca-Cola Amatil announcing it was planning to sell the cannery, with a deal expected by mid-year.
CCA has already written off the value of the business, but said it was pleased with the vote of confidence in Goulburn Valley fruit.
Last month CCA pulled out of well-progressed plans to make a joint bid for Lion Dairy and Drinks processing assets in partnership with Freedom Foods, which also backed away from the opportunity.
SPC managing director, Reg Weine, welcomed the deal saying the newfound partnership would be a great boost for the 100-year-old company
"The Coles brand volume will improve our factory utilisation and will also provide our growers with an additional outlet for their quality fruit," he said.
"It is great to see Coles continue to support local businesses and growers."
While welcoming the chance to see Coles promote Australian tinned produce rather than imports, some fruit growers are uneasy about their produce being sold cheaply at $2 for almost a kilogram of processed food.
Pressure from private label products has been blamed for SPC's declining sales during the 13 years it has been part of CCA - down 50pc to about $220m last financial year.
To have a commitment from Coles for this fruit makes life so much easier.
However, Shepparton farmer, John Poulos, said the Coles and SPC partnership would allow farmers to sell fruit from more than 36,000 trees.
"Each peach tree represents a seven-year commitment until they're producing fruit, and it's even longer for pears - you plant pears for your heirs," he said.
"To have a commitment from Coles for this fruit makes life so much easier."
"It takes a while to get a tree cropping and there's not really any fresh market demand for the fruit, as these varieties are especially grown for canning.
"So, to be able to maintain these trees and not have to think about replanting new varieties is very important to us."
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