The MD of SPC Ardmona has said the Australian fruit processor’s new private-label contract with Woolworths Ltd is a sign of the company’s “progress” in restoring its business with retailers.

SPC Ardmona MD Peter Kelly told just-food the company was “hopeful” it could secure more agreements in the months ahead.

The company, owned by Coke bottler Coca-Cola Amatil, will supply canned apricots, peaches, apples and pears to be sold under the retailer’s Woolworths Select own label. 

Woolworths already stocks SPC Ardmona’s branded lines. The retailer said the own-label lines will replace products previously imported from South Africa and Thailand. SPC Ardmona has complained to Australian authorities at the alleged dumping of fruit by rival countries. In a May trading update, Coca-Cola Amatil said SPC Ardmona had seen volume and earnings fall in the first four months of the year, as the high Australian dollar made the business less competitive against imported own-label products.

“SPC Ardmona is very pleased that Woolworths is increasing the quantity of their Australian sourced products in their stores,” Kelly said. 

“We’ve been working very productively with Woolworths in recent months to improve the competitiveness for all our Australian grown brands and we are very grateful for their help and the increased support we have been receiving at a time when our business needs it most,” Kelly said. 

“There is still some way to go in all retailers to get back to where we once were and we are encouraged that we are making solid progress and are hopeful of more breakthroughs in the coming weeks and months.”

Last month, Australia’s new anti-dumping body agreed to look into claims from local fruit processor SPC Ardmona that South Africa is dumping peaches into the country.

In February, Coca-Cola Amatil announced a “significant” write-down of assets and goodwill at SPC Ardmona.

It said at the time: “The strong Australian dollar continued to impact SPC Ardmona’s competitiveness against cheap, lower-quality imported brands and retailer private-label categories in Australia, while a 20% deflation in fresh fruit prices also resulted in a shift from packaged to fresh fruit.”