The truth behind a Woolworths packaging change that has infuriated customers

Brooke Rolfe
·News Reporter
·3-min read

Australian consumers are up in arms after an eagle-eyed shopper spotted something out of the ordinary on a can of fruit salad from Woolworths.

Instead of regular labelling stating the product was made in Australia, a new can indicated the fruit had been imported from China.

One customer noticed there was an old and new can on the shelf of her local Woolworths in Sydney on Thursday, expressing her disappointment in a post to Facebook on Friday.

“A word of warning. In Woolworths yesterday. The can on the right is product of Australia. The one in the left (a new packaging, white writing, blue background) is not product of Australia,” she wrote.

Front of a Woolworths after Made in Australia labelling scandal.
Debate rages over small detail in new Woolworths fruit salad packaging label

“Pays to check every time you buy something.”

Her revelation sparked a huge reaction from more than 3000 social media users, many of whom praised the shopper for spreading the news.

“Thank you for your vigilance. I do look for Australian products, but when I find one, I don’t have the time to recheck the label every shop. With very similar packaging, that’s a blatant attempt to rip off the consumer,” one person wrote in response.

“Why are Woolworths supporting foreign workers? By importing food Woolworths is not supporting Australian growers and Australian workers,” another said.

“That's very cheeky Woolies, not cool,” a third wrote.

Woolworths said it was continuing to support Australian fruit growers but was not able to meet demand with Australian fruit.

The switch from Australian to Chinese fruit was a by-product of incredible demand throughout the coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing devastation of bushfires, the retailer said.

Person holding two Woolworths canned fruit salads.
Shoppers were annoyed when they learned the new can didn't have a Made in Australia label. Source: Facebook

A note to the product’s ad on the Woolworths website informed customers of the “temporary” change.

“Due to local fruit shortages, we have had to temporarily change our source of canned fruit from local to international across nine own brand stock-keeping units,” the note read.

A Woolworths spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia the product, supplied by SPC, was set to contain Australian made products again next year.

“We understand how important it is to support Australian businesses and in turn our communities,” they said.

When will the Woolworths fruit salad be locally sourced again?

“Due to extraordinary demand during COVID-19 and a poor harvest from bushfires, SPC could not supply major supermarkets with Australian fruit for their tinned fruit range.

“We are as disappointed as our customers in this situation but felt that it was better to have supply for our customers from overseas rather than out of stocks for what would have been many months over summer.

“We have a strong commitment to an Australian-first sourcing policy with 100% of our fresh meat, 96% of our fresh fruit and vegetables, and most of our own brand products sourced from Australia.

“We expect availability of the Australian fruit to return over Jan/Feb 2021 with the new crop harvests and will then revert back to Australian Fruit for the Woolworths tinned product.”

Other supermarkets including Coles and Aldi have been affected by the same Australian fruit shortages.

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