A Tasmanian apple orchard has been announced the inaugural recipient of the $30 million Woolworths Organic Growth Fund.
The grant from Woolworths will form part of a $10m investment by Huon Valley business R&R Smith, to increase production of organic apples in Australia and put a focus on the development of an organic apple variety not well known in Australia.
Owner Andrew Smith said his Grove farm had been supplying certified organic apples to Woolworths since 2006.
“Our relationship with Woolworths has been crucial in our growth to date, and critical in the future of our business,” Mr Smith said.
“Ultimately, we are working together to make organic fruit more available for Australian customers and we are pleased to be the first recipient of the new Organic Growth Fund.”
The orchard will grow a new apple which is called Kizuri in some markets around the world.
“We are working with Woolworths to develop a variety name that will resonate with our organic customers in Australia,” Mr Smith said.
“At R&R Smith we are focussed on growing fruit that has a minimum human interference and yet still gives that great eating experience for our customers. We have searched the world to find new apple varieties that achieve this via organic farming.”
The Woolworths fund will allocate grants and interest-free loans over the next five years to Australian organic fruit and vegetable growers looking to expand their operations and those keen to become part of the burgeoning organic industry.
Farmers will also have contracted purchase volumes, providing them with the certainty of longer-term supply of organic fruit and vegetables to Woolworths.
Woolworths Supermarkets Managing Director, Claire Peters said demand had been growing at a rate of 20% year on year over the past five years in the organic produce category.
“We can 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,” she said.