Australian consumers were flabbergasted to learn that thousands of avocados were being dumped amid the highest food price inflation in years. A Queensland resident described the discarded mountains of fruit as "tonnes and tonnes and tonnes of avocados going to waste".
But farmers have defended the waste, saying it was the only way to secure a profit. Jan De Lai, a resident of Atherton in far north Queensland, said the fruit were perfectly fine but left to rot on a waste dump.
“Two trucks came in and just dumped big mounds of avocados. And I’d noticed that there’d also been a lot dumped there previously,” she told Australian outlet 7NEWS.
Australia is suffering its highest year-on-year increase in food price inflation since 2011, according to Michael Harvey, an agriculture industry analyst from Rabobank.
A board member of Avocados Australia, admitted that a large number of avocados were destroyed in this manner. Covid-19 lockdowns with restaurants and eateries closed down, as well as the Queensland and New South Wales floods this year has “disrupted” the market, he explained.
When asked why farmers were not lowering the price to drive up demand, he said it would not be worth it for farmers. “The cost of putting that stuff in a package, including the labour and the cost of packaging and the cost of transport is just not worthwhile.”
He added: “It doesn’t pay to put the money into packing the fruit or to pay someone the freight costs to send it down to Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.”
During the pandemic, grocery channels performed better that the food service, causing a decrease in the consumption of avocados, he told 7NEWS.
In the longer term, the oversupply situation should correct itself “and there’s still growing demand”.
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