Agribusiness

Coles pledges $50m fund to help agriculture ‘innovate and grow’

Sheep Central, April 23, 2015

Coles Nurture FundNATIONAL supermarket retailer Coles has established the Coles Nurture Fund to help small Australian food and grocery producers, farmers and manufacturers to innovate and grow their business.

The Fund, announced this morning at a gathering in Weribee, Victoria, will allocate $50 million over five years in grants and interest-free loans to fund the development of new market-leading products, technologies, systems and processes in agricultural supply chains.

The fund will be open to small and medium sized farm businesses, food producers and manufacturers.

“The Coles Nurture Fund is one way Coles can offer support and encouragement to small Australian businesses looking for assistance to take the next step in creating more productive and innovative ways of working,” a company statement said.

“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 for innovative business systems that will improve how they get product to market,” the company said.

The National Farmers Federation welcomed Coles’ decision to allocate $50 million to help farmers who are keen to improve on-farm efficiency and develop new products.

NFF chief executive Simon Talbot said the announcement, from one of Australia’s major retailers, recognised the importance of investment in the farm sector to boost productivity and competitiveness.

“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,” Mr 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.

“We look forward to seeing more detail around the Nurture Fund, which, if implemented well, could be a win-win for all participants across the food supply chain,” Mr Talbot said.

The proposed five year project will be open to businesses with less than $25 million in annual revenue and fewer than 50 full-time employees. Initial rounds are now open and close on Friday 12 June.

To be eligible for consideration for the initial allocation of grants or interest free loans from the CNF, Coles must receive from eligible entities a fully completed CNF Application Form with mandatory attachments by Friday 12 June.

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