Woolworths partners with farmers to feed growing appetite for organics
The Woolworths Organic Growth Fund has been established to support eligible Australian growers in their organic farming projects. Established in 2018 in partnership with Heritage Bank, the $30 million fund aims to assist fruit and vegetable growers to start the journey to organic farming or grow existing organic production.
Australians are buying more organic fruit and vegetables, with demand increasing around 20 per cent annually over recent years. To continue serving consumers’ growing appetite for organic produce, Woolworths is providing grants and interest-free loans to farmers looking to convert to or expand organic production.
The Woolworths Organic Growth Fund is a $30 million program that was established in 2018 to partner with Australian growers to increase the local availability of organic fruit and vegetables. It has already delivered millions of dollars in funding to 13 family businesses across the country. The fund provides farmers with the boost they may need to take the next step in their organic business or transition to organic growing for the first time.
Grants and loans have been awarded for projects including research and development of new varieties, implementing new growing methods and renewing existing plantings. The fund has also supported the purchase of practical infrastructure for organic production like above ground irrigation, packaging machinery, commercial mowers and sweepers, and shade and netting structures.
“We’re working in close partnership with innovative and entrepreneurial Australian farmers to help meet the growing demand for organics,” Woolworths Organic Fruit & Vegetable Manager Jessica Loader said.
“We know diversification is high on the agenda for growers and through the fund we’ve helped conventional growers branch out into organics, while maintaining their existing core business.
“The fund also supports established organic producers who are ready to increase production, and we work with them to understand what infrastructure and investments will increase their output.”
An organic vision
Conventional grower Jimmy Kalafatis and his family have supplied fruit to Woolworths from their Shepparton property for 50 years. In a first for his business, Mr Kalafatis will grow organic pears and plums after receiving a grant through the Woolworths Organic Growth Fund last year.
“Consumers are putting more organic produce into their shopping baskets every week – that’s what we’re seeing, and what the statistics are telling us,” Mr Kalafatis said.
“We applied for the grant because we want to be at the forefront of potential growth markets in Australian fresh produce.”
The Woolworths Organic Growth Fund will invest up to $30 million over a five-year period through grants and interest-free loans. All loans are issued by Heritage Bank.
The next annual round of applications will open in May, and Woolworths invites all interested fruit and vegetable growers to apply.
Find out more
To apply for a loan or for further information, please visit the Woolworths website.
Cover image: Jimmy Kalafatis and Woolworths Group Manager for Shepparton, James Hogben.