Fairfax Media Network

Weather News

Blemished fruit dumped despite perfect eating quality

Eliza Rogers/Lucinda Kent, Monday June 24, 2013 - 07:32 EST
ABC image
Gayndah citrus farmer Ken Roth dumped hundreds of tonnes of mandarins because prices made it unviable to pick. - ABC
ABC image
Gayndah citrus farmer Ken Roth dumped hundreds of tonnes of mandarins because prices made it unviable to pick. - ABC

Hundreds of tonnes of citrus in Queensland's flood-affected Burnett region have been left to rot, and mountains of melons have also been left to the birds.

One major buyer and marketer says thousands of tonnes of watermelons have gone to waste over the past few months because the wet weather caused the flesh inside to crack.

He says the cracks don't change the eating quality of the fruit, but do make it unmarketable.

"For the farmer, that means disaster, because either they get left in the paddock, or, if they are graded as first-grade in the paddocks, they're rejected from the
supermarket, and have to be sold at any offering price or in some cases dumped."

He says growers' returns have dipped as low as $300 per tonne below the cost of production.

Like Mr Beeston, other produce marketers and even the State Government have been appealing to retailers and consumers to buy and eat flood-damaged produce.

The Member for Burnett Steven Bennett says the government has made a deal with Woolworths for the retail giant to support flood-affected farmers rather than import citrus.

But he says Coles, IGA and even the local canneries are not yet on board.

"I think people have a corporate responsibility to make sure that we help the flood-hit farmers... and we continue to call on major supermarket chains to stock our local produce."

Coles has told the ABC it works closely with suppliers to get the best outcome for customers and farmers, and is continuing to buy flood-marked fruit.

The CEO of Citrus Australia Judith Damiani says that, overall, the markets have been very supportive of this year's setbacks.

She says Citrus Australia did a lot of post-flood work to determine damage, feed information back to markets and encourage their help.

Woolworths says it's been labelling flood-marked foods to inform shoppers, and Mrs Damiani says knowledge is key to better supporting producers.

"I think there needs to be more education to tell people about how their food is grown and to expect variations; I think people do tend to be forgiving."


© ABC 2013

More breaking news

ABC News
Sydney Morning Herald
National Nine News
News Limited

Display Your Local Weather

Weather News

QLD's storm season in full swing

18:19 EDT

Thunderstorms have flared up again over Queensland, with stormy skies likely to be a daily occurrence over the next week.

Haystack fires to burn grain producers who baled up failed crops, didn't get insurance

16:33 EDT

Fresh haystacks are exploding into flames across Victoria and South Australia and experts are warning it could be the start of a disastrous season.

National Servicemen's Memorial Pipes and Drums Band witnesses devastating drought on outback tour

15:03 EDT

One of Australia's most renowned pipe and drum bands will end an ambitious tour this weekend with a renewed understanding of how rural Queenslanders are dealing with drought.