Supermarket behemoth Woolworths has withdrawn its controversial three-cents-per-kilogram apple and pear levy over fears of negative publicity.

Growers have welcomed the move, and at the annual general meeting of the Australian Apple and Pear Growers Association last week, they responded by passing a motion to work with retailers and develop “appropriate promotional programs that are funded through agreed mechanisms”.

The levy, which was introduced without explanation of its benefits earlier this year, caused much consternation as growers were already paying more than 1.5c a kilogram for national research and promotion.

The association’s president Kevin Baddily commented that the levy was ditched over fears of negative publicity and added that it is essential for growers to establish better working relationships with supermarkets.

Growers are currently concerned that the high standards set by supermarkets were manifesting themselves in a drop in fruit quality. An important topic for discussion at the meeting was the retailer’s demands for unrealistically red apples.