Woolworths has offered farmers $30 million in funding to help them meet growing consumer demand for organic fruit and vegetables in store. The supermarket partnered with Heritage Bank to provide the financing.

“There’s no doubt more Australian customers are choosing to buy organic and seeking fruit and vegetables that are the product of the best of what Australia’s natural farming resources have to offer. Working with Heritage Bank, the Woolworths Organic Growth Fund represents our long-term commitment to satisfying this growing consumer demand, allowing us to continue our partnership with local farmers to make sure we’re ready for future demand,” said Claire Peters, managing director, Woolworths.

The funding, aimed at enhancing the quality and range of locally produced organic produce in its stores, will see the country’s growers receive grants and interest-free loans to help them expand operations over the next five years.

“With the assistance of the fund’s interest-free loans and grants, we can help farmers adopt innovative approaches that will enable the range of organic fruit and vegetables on offer to grow, making it more readily available and affordable for customers.”

Woolworths will also offer farmers supply contracts, allowing them to supply volumes of organic produce to the chain’s stores. Apple orchardist, R&R Smith, based in Tasmania is set to be the first farm to expand through the new funding.

“We continue to see ongoing demand for our organic apples. The support from the Woolworths Organic Growth fund will be instrumental in helping us develop a new organic apple variety and bring it to market an Australian first,” said Andrew Smith, owner and manager of R&R Smith.