AT least three Ballarat potato farmers have had their supply contracts with McCain Foods completely cut, as the fallout from the company’s decreased production continues.
McCain Foods would not reveal how many growers had been affected yesterday, but The Courier understands at least three major farmers have had their supplies completely cut off.
It is also believed more than half will see their current contracts significantly slashed, some by as much as 50 per cent.
The three terminated suppliers had supplied to McCain for almost 100 years combined and have now been left to find other ways to make a living.
One local farmer, who wished to remain anonymous, said there was virtually no chance for any form of negotiation with McCain Foods.
Ballarat region farmers planned to meet last night to discuss alternatives, since many felt they could no longer make a living off the food production giant.
“There is nothing we can really do now,” the local farmer said.
“McCain’s have made their decision. Some guys are looking at alternatives.”
McCain has blamed a rapid increase in international imports into the frozen food product market in Australia, which has forced it to reduce production.
Employee job cuts are not predicted.
“We don’t know why they have done it this way and how they chose who would be able to supply to them and who wouldn’t,” the farmer said.
“It’s all very strange to us.”
It is believed potato prices in the new contract have been slashed by $30 to $40 a tonne, with the innovators variety to fetch $305 a tonne and the russet burbanks about $315 a tonne.
McCain Foods integrated supply chain director Graham Harvey said in a statement that imports had increased exponentially and left McCain with little choice.
“Now there is a tide of cheaper potato imports, which have averaged around 80,000 tonnes per annum in the past two years, but since last July have doubled to 90,000 tonnes in only six months,” he said.
Mr Harvey said McCain gave farmers enough notice so they could source other incomes within five months.
McCain Foods says it will take months before it can release final contractor figures.