March 14, 2013
Fruit growers in Victoria are receiving record low prices for their produce this season. “The perfect growing season has partly led to an oversupply, but at the same time, retailers continue to sell fruit at record low prices which is not helping,” VFF Horticulture President Sue Finger said today. “I recently heard from one grower, who by the time the agent and packer took their fees, received close to nothing for his fruit. “This is unsustainable and without the entire supply chain able to profit, there will be many more growers who will go to the wall,” Ms Finger said. This will affect major rural and regional communities that rely heavily on growers and their employees spending in these towns. Similar stories are cropping up all over Victoria. Another grower recently received 40 cents per kilo for a 10 kilogram box of peaches that were selling for around $1.60 per kilo in some retailers. “That’s a mark-up of 400 per cent. Who is making the profits then? How can growers continue to supply cheap fruit to consumers when everyone makes a profit but the grower? “For example, it’s been calculated that with high labour and input costs the most efficient stonefruit growers will still need to get about $2.50 per kilo back in order to grow a crop the next season. “Supermarkets are telling us they are helping growers by lowering the price of fruit and vegetables to move more, but consumers can only eat so much. Secondly, lowering the price may not equate to an increase in sales. “Growers are paying high labour costs in order to pick the fruit, whereas in many cases it would be more beneficial for their business to let the fruit drop from the trees,” Ms Finger said. The question is – where will this leave the Victorian horticulture industry and rural communities going forward?