Australian avocado farmers are facing a major crisis due to the price crash of this fruit caused by fall in demand by consumers.
Although the coronavirus pandemic has affected the economy around the world, the avocado problem in Australia is mainly a local problem, informs The Washington Post. According to the newspaper, avocado, a very popular product in Australia for decades, was adversely affected by an increase in supply coupled with a reduction in demand caused by the long closures of the restaurant, a combination of factors that made the price of an avocado will plummet to about 60 cents.
“Low price storm”
Farmers, who a few years ago were elated by their sales, are now overwhelmed by the new reality and are forced to discard the once-in-demand fruit, crushing it with their tractors or turning it into cooking oil. “It’s a perfect storm of low prices,” laments farmer Tim Kemp. “I just didn’t expect it to hit us as hard as it has. It really tore us apart“, he assures.
Kemp, who cultivates on his family farm, currently keeps nine tons of avocado in his refrigerated warehouse. However, this large amount of the product will not bring you great benefits: if a few years ago containers full of these fruits would have been worth almost 40,000 dollars, now they will only give you a fifth of that figure. “Basically, we are selling avocados for less than production cost“, he says.
Simultaneously with the plummeting prices, avocado production has increased by 65%, says John Tyas, CEO of the Avocados Australia industry group. Tyas explains that the phenomenon is partly due to the fact that after years of drought, ideal growing conditions were restored, while tens of thousands of trees planted years ago began to bear fruit.
In pre-pandemic conditions, this would have been a great advantage for growers, but the restrictions adopted in Australia in the wake of the coronavirus negatively affected demand. Thus, Alan Poggioli, from the north of the state of Queensland, claims to have thrown away 10 or 20 tons of avocado for the first time this year. “We just destroy them with tractors“Poggioli said.
Pig feed or compost
Another couple of farmers, Tony and Julie Pratt, tried to delay picking avocados for as long as possible in the hope that prices would rise, but the fruits started falling from the trees before that happened. Faced with the situation, Julie decided to offer the fruit through social networks, while her husband began to sell the avocados at the foot of the road. Despite their efforts, the couple ended up distributing 50-kilo sacks of avocados among their friends to feed cattle and pigs. Another grower, Ian Tolson, was forced to convert a lot of low-end fruit into oil and to compost hundreds of tons of avocados.
Faced with these adversities, many small farmers blame international corporations for taking over the market with their products and assure that, if the situation does not change soon, they will go bankrupt. “It’s just Capitalism 101,” said Trevor Bendotti, a second-generation avocado grower from Western Australia.