CALL TO ACTION: Grove Juice is one of Warwick’s largest employers.
CALL TO ACTION: Grove Juice is one of Warwick’s largest employers.

Grove Juice faces huge blow over tough new health laws

Grove Juice has asked Southern Downs Regional Council to step in to help overturn a new health rating it says could put Warwick jobs at risk.

State and federal ministers will meet this week to decide if 100 per cent fresh fruit juice should have a higher health star rating, after an overhaul of the system saw it downgraded from five stars to just 2.5 - less than some soft drinks.

Farmers warned the downgrade could harm the $736 million fruit juice industry and now the Warwick-based company says it also faces a blow fromt he move.

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Grove Juice asked the council to write an urgent letter to the Queensland Agricultural Minister Mark Furner, vouching for health and economic repercussions of raising the rating.

Councillor Stephen Tancred agreed that sustaining the lower rating would have long-term effects on the business.

"(Grove Juice) employ 50 people here and another 100 or so in Brisbane. They source fruit from the Southern Downs and all over Australia," he said.

"They value add and it's a valuable industry and this council was instrumental in getting them to come to Warwick."

He said the move could lead to fewer children drinking the beverage and in turn, lower production rates.

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"In the long-term, children might drink less fruit juice and tuckshops might stock less of it," he said.

"There might be adverse health outcomes but also it may impact on employment in the Southern Downs if there's less fruit juice produced because there's less demand."

Councillor Jo McNally said the change wouldn't only affect Grove Juice.

"We stopped at Sutton's on the way home the other day and they would be impacted as well," she said.

"It's very important that fruit juice is not the same as a can of soft drink, it's blatantly clear, and let's hope that politicians actually acknowledge that and make the right decision."

Citrus Australia chief executive Nathan Hancock had recently called the system "flawed" in response.

"Reduced juice sales would cause Aussie farmers to remove (juice varieties), meaning significantly less money flowing to our rural communities," he said.

Grove Juice continues to be a major Warwick employer, according to 2020 findings, along with John Dee and Warwick Hopsital.

Councillors motioned in favour to write the letter.


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