VICTORIA'S peak farm lobby has initiated talks with Coles to address farmer concerns around fairer and more transparent pricing of fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and milk.
Victorian Farmers Federation president Peter Tuohey recently met with Coles management to air concerns that farmers had about its growing power in the marketplace.
“It’s time to level the playing field between supermarkets and farmers,” Mr Tuohey said.
“Coles is an important market for Victorian producers. Equally, Coles could not provide quality fresh produce to its customers without our farmers. So we need to get the relationship right.”
Mr Tuohey said farmers’ ill-feeling towards supermarkets was growing and it would take leadership on both sides to fix the problem.
He said Coles’ advertising and pricing strategies were two areas that left a bad taste in farmers’ mouths.
“We want Coles to use its national influence to responsibly educate consumers about Australia’s fresh food supply chain.
“Most of all, farmers want more transparency in the supply chain. They want to know why they are running their businesses to barely break even while Coles’ posts a profit of more than $1.3 billion.
“Farmers’ cost of production is going up while the prices paid by supermarkets are going down – before long, more and more farmers will be squeezed out of the food system.”
Mr Tuohey said he spoke to Coles about the cost pressures faced by farmers and the importance of a sustainable food production system.
“Supply chain pressures really impact farmers’ bottom lines. We need to work together to make it a balanced, fairer and more sustainable food system.
“We also spoke about how Coles can work with producers to help them better deliver for the highly competitive Australian retail environment.”
Mr Tuohey said he expects the talks with Coles to continue.
“We’ve got a long way to go. But being able to sit around the table and talk about how each side can work more successfully together is a good start,” Mr Tuohey said.
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