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Australian supermarkets to sell un-waxed apples; farmers save millions

In a movement hailed by growers and public alike, major Australian supermarkets, Coles and Woolworths have decided to accept un-waxed apples from suppliers, which would save millions of dollars for the apple growers. Supermarkets usually demand the fruit to be waxed to make it shiny before accepting them, which costs a great deal of time and effort for the growers.

Coles have already started selling wax free apples from the beginning of the year and Woolworths will do the same from February. The demand to wax the fruit was relented after customers demanded for more natural-looking wax free apples, the supermarkets said. This would not affect the product prices or the flavor. The fruit will still be washed and polished before it is in the shelves.

Orange apple grower Peter Darley welcomed the timeliness of the decision as this year’s harvest is due next week. Spraying apples with wax is an expensive process which includes heating the wax using LPG before spraying.  Darley said it would take $1.50 per case of apples to spray the apples. That equated to more than $3 million for the 2-2.5 million cases of apples produced in Orange every year. Farmers will also save on employment costs and on cleaning waxing machines.

Coles spokeswoman Jasmine Zwiebel said: “It’s a cost reduction for the growers. Fruit pricing is seasonal, prices will fluctuate. The wax applied was safe, edible food wax. Some people will say they [un-waxed] are more fragrant or flavourful but we don’t have any evidence of that.”

Woolworths head of produce Scott Davidson said: “It has been undertaken in full consultation with both the industry body, Apple and Pear Australia Limited (APAL) and all Woolworths apple suppliers. While an un-waxed apple make look duller, it will still taste just as good and will contain all the nutrients that an added wax apple has.”

Apple and Pear Australia Ltd (APAL) chief executive officer, Philip Turnbull, said:  “We represent all growers and this diversity of opinion.  However, if the major retailers’ move to apples with no added wax means people eat more apples, then, overall, it could be good for the industry.”

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