Our spud farmers anxiously waiting
NATIONAL vegetable industry body AUSVEG is concerned that Australian potato growers will be left out of pocket following Australia’s largest potato supplier entering receivership in early May.
Oakville Produce is a dominant force in the Australian potato industry, supplying about three-quarters of all the potatoes sold in Woolworths supermarkets and having almost a quarter share of the entire fresh potato market in Australia.
The company entered voluntary administration on May 11.
Some growers report they are owed hundreds of thousands of dollars.
AUSVEG believes growers’ debts should be considered a priority as creditors are repaid and is calling for support from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and receiver and manager Deloitte to ensure that small farmers are not disadvantaged.
“The rationalisation of the potato industry and its supply chain is increasingly requiring Australian growers, many of whom are operating farms that have been in their family for generations, to rely on large packhouses to stay in business,” AUSVEG spokesman Jordan Brooke-Barnett said.
“Unfortunately, this means that if these companies suffer financial misfortune, Australian growers can bear the brunt of the damage and are often the last in a long line of creditors to receive payment due to having less resources to pursue recourse when compared to larger companies.
“We’d like to see more protections to ensure that our hard-working growers are fully compensated for any debts that exist in this sort of situation, and we’ve made representations to the ACCC asking for their support in ensuring that growers have their debts fully serviced.
“We don’t want to see ongoing turmoil with continued turnover of these major players which can leave Australian growers out of pocket.”