STONEFRUIT growers are considering legal action following SPC's announcement that it is no longer accepting apricots.
More than 100 growers from around the state met with SPC on December 11 last year to discuss expectations for the coming season, and were told by managing director Vince Pinneri the processor would take "all available apricots''.
But on Monday growers received text messages from SPC saying it would stop taking apricots at 6pm Friday.
This was then revised and growers received calls yesterday afternoon saying SPC would stop accepting fruit last night.
Fruit Growers Victoria general manager John Wilson said there were growers who had relied on the information in the SMS and arrived at with produce this morning.
"From December growers have irrigated, sprayed and tended to trees thinking their fruit would be accepted,'' he said.
"Now they have ripe fruit on the trees they have to harvest, because they can't leave it on the tree and ruin next year's crop.
"So they have to pay to pick fruit, which would have brought in $700 a tonne, and discard it, when they could have just broken green fruit off the tree in December and saved themselves the time and money.''
Mr Wilson said many growers would see 30 per cent of their tonnage go to waste.
He said SPC had accepted 3500 tonnes of apricots before the cut off, but there had been about 5100 tonnes on trees.
"Since their announcement in December they have realised there was more fruit out there than they anticipated," Mr Wilson said.
Mr Pinneri said at the meeting in December that SPC was facing challenging trading conditions as a consequence of the high Australian dollar and there had been significant deflation in fresh fruit prices and competition from cheap imported products.
"The reality is that demand for packaged fruit has been declining and our fruit intake for the 2013 season reflects this,'' Mr Pinneri said.
"Our fruit intake must be driven by the market demand and the reality is that Australians are not consuming our canned fruit products in the same quantities that they have in the past.
"Demand for packaged fruit has been declining and for that reason our fruit intake requirements have reduced.''
He said SPC was transforming its business to develop a "sustainable operating platform for the future''.
"The simple truth is that consumer tastes have changed and if we are to survive we must adapt and transform the way we do business,'' Mr Pinneri said.
Mr Wilson said while the situation processors were in was challenging, the industry deserved better treatment.
"The situation the canneries face is real, but the way they've managed it and the resulting impact on growers, is their doing,'' Mr Wilson said.
"I wonder how - only a month away from harvest - they could get their estimates so wrong.
"We would like them to set their poor performance right by compensating any growers who have been disadvantaged.''
Mr Wilson said as the representative organisation, FGV would do what its members wanted it to do.