Coles to spend $50m on farmers

23 Apr, 2015 10:45 AM
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Coles managing director John Durkan, Coles ambassador Curtis Stone and Fresh Select CEO John Said at the Werribee vegetable farm.
Smart, energetic and agile small businesses can often be a launch pad for great product innovation
Coles managing director John Durkan, Coles ambassador Curtis Stone and Fresh Select CEO John Said at the Werribee vegetable farm.

COLES will spend $50 million on nurturing farm businesses, the company has announced today.

The Nurture Fund will help small Australian food and grocery producers, farmers and manufacturers to innovate and grow their business, with $50 million allocated over five years in grants and interest-free loans to fund the development of new market-leading products, technologies and processes.

The Fund will be open to businesses with less than $25 million in annual revenue and 50 or fewer full-time employees.

Horticultural body Ausveg welcomed the announcement today as a sign of confidence in the industry.

“The fact that Coles, one of the biggest retailers in the country, is supporting local business innovation and development through such a substantial fund sends a strong message that it has confidence in the industry’s long-term viability and prosperity,” Ausveg deputy CEO Andrew White said.

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) said if implemented well, the new fund could be a win-win for all participants across the food supply chain.

“Strong, private investment in the farm sector offers many potential benefits, including better infrastructure, uptake of new technology and improved protection for seasonally-affected businesses from income volatility,” NFF CEO Simon Talbot said.

“For example, a grower might invest in hydroponics at height, lifting worker productivity and reducing water-use. Immediately, benefits can flow from reduced costs, and the ability for farmers to produce more, with less, for longer.”

Making the announcement at a vegetable farm in Victoria’s Werribee this morning, Coles managing director John Durkan said the fund would help producers take the next step in improving productivity and innovation.

“Through investing in productivity driving activities we can not only provide better value to customers but also help set up small businesses to develop the products and platforms to expand their operations and, in some cases, export into global markets,” Mr Durkan said.

“Smart, energetic and agile small businesses can often be a launch pad for great product innovation and powerful new ideas on better ways of working.

“Coles wants to hear exciting and ambitious plans from smaller entrepreneurs about how they can deliver new and better product to customers, or about ideas they have for innovative business systems that will improve how they get product to market. Modest financial support can make the difference in getting great ideas up and running.”

The Coles Nurture Fund further builds on the Coles Supplier Charter, the company said in a statement.

Small business entrepreneurs can submit requests for funds, along with their business plan, for review by the Coles Nurture Fund. Application forms for the Coles Nurture Fund are available at www.coles.com.au/nurturefund and applications should be submitted to nurturefund@coles.com.au – first round applications close on Friday 12 June 2015.

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READER COMMENTS

Simon
23/04/2015 4:09:45 PM

I applaud this initiative with the caveat that I note Mr Durkan talks "productivity" where I would prefer to hear "profitability". I suspect his perceived outcome is more supply at lower prices. That's the treadmill producers have been on for decades.
Peter de Leeuw
24/04/2015 6:27:43 AM

An excellent step in making progress for small businesses. These are a big percentage of the economy. So the benefits will spread
Bemused
24/04/2015 6:39:55 AM

Haha, if they paid their farmers a fair price for their food, they wouldn't need to do such a thing. (But it is good marketing on their behalf and I'm sure they will use it in all their advertising!)
Bushfire Blonde
24/04/2015 11:51:02 AM

Is this a con job or is Coles' conscience at last catching up with them?
smoke screen
25/04/2015 5:14:19 AM

If anyone thinks that Coles will give away 50 million for nothing is either living in fairy land or delusional. Try sending a load of cattle to Coles and coping the whack around the ears if 1 beast is 1 kg over their grid price! Then when you see their so called expert buyers purchasing cattle way over their weight restrictions at the saleyards at the same levels you sold yours and you soon work out how they will recover their 50 million. Rules for some and rules for others. Nothing is for nothing and Coles are the perfect example. Producer beware.
farmed
6/05/2015 8:27:07 AM

wolf in sheeps clothing!

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