Article by: Hari Yellina
Coles will provide incentives to creative producers in Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland to assist improve the supply of organic fresh food for customers. The donations given this week increase the Coles Nurture Fund’s overall financial support to $30 million since 2015. Coles said this week that it will provide scholarships to six small and medium-sized enterprises working to promote sustainability and expand Australia’s organic fresh produce market. Mt Alma Organics, a third-generation firm based in North Queensland’s Burdekin Shire, will receive $300,000 to purchase and install specialised equipment for washing, grading, and sorting food. This will not only allow for new practise, but it will also allow them to greatly increase their production of certified organic fruits and vegetables. An additional benefit will be an improved ability to hire full-time and seasonal workers, resulting in a beneficial and long-term influence on the local community.
Peninsula Fresh Organics, a Victorian family business, will use a $300,000 grant to help implement plans to transform irrigation infrastructure at its farms in Baxter, VIC, and Barham, NSW, saving 60 million litres of water per year and preventing nutrient runoff into local waterways, as well as to build a cool room to extend product shelf life. Agricultural Networks, a Queensland producer, will use a $189,000 award to assist speed up access to organic fresh fruit in important growing regions by opening a new dedicated organic certified packing and distribution facility in Gatton which will enable them to process increased volumes of produce from many local growers.
Coles Group CEO Steven Cain said the Coles Nurture Fund was happy to promote new innovative and sustainable ventures. “Through the Coles Nurture Fund, we’re happy to have now awarded $30 million in financial support to over 90 Australian farmers to help drive innovation and generational sustainability on Australian farms and in production facilities,” he added. “At Coles, we strive to be Australia’s most sustainable supermarket, and we’re actively working with our food, grocery, and beverage partner organisations to encourage buyers and continue our sustainability journey by assisting in the expansion of local production, reduction of emissions, and increased recycling.”
Curtis Stone, a panellist for the Coles Nurture Fund, said all six candidates who received grants in the most recent round of funding had clearly demonstrated that they are deserving of the Nurture Fund. “Australia produces some of the world’s highest-quality food, and it’s fantastic to see our farmers and producers continuously demonstrate ideas that help our agriculture sector have a more sustainable future,” he added. “With the emphasis on organic produce and sustainability in this round’s submissions, it’s critical that we at Coles be able to assist these farms in implementing measures that will innovate and develop the Australian food sector.”