Banana glut in Australia cripples industry
An oversupply of bananas in northern Australia has turned into a crisis for the industry as labor costs continue to outpace market price, according to local newspaper the Cairns Post.
A warm winter on the country’s northeast coast near Cairns spurred a glut of bananas, which caused prices to drop. The region produces 90% of Australia’s bananas, according to the Australian Banana Growers Council, the website said.
Tony Camuglia, owner of Fresh Yellow Bananas near Innisfail, Australia, is quoted as saying that only 30% of the crop is being purchased at market, with buyers being particularly picky about size.
"They are not taking the bigger XXL fruit from the top of the bunch, or the smaller fruit at the bottom, just the perfect-sized bananas from the middle," he said, according to the website. "The rest is getting turned into mulch because there is no demand.”
He said that 450,000 cartons of bananas are needed to meet demand, but that 600,000 cartons are being produced, according to the website.
The situation has become so dire that some growers are considering leaving the industry entirely in the next 12 to 18 months, Cassowary Coast Banana Growers Association President Mark Nucifora said, according to the website.
"No one knows when, or if, things will get better," he is quoted as saying.
To move inventory, the Australian Banana Growers Council will begin advertising to persuade Australians to eat more bananas in other parts of the country, the website said.
Food prices across Australia may quadruple soon because of severe flooding in agricultural areas including southern Queensland and Western Australia, according to news website WAtoday.com.au.
As supermarkets resupply after the holidays, prices are expected to rise sharply, according to the National Association of Retail Grocers.
Mangoes, grapes, lettuce and celery are among the crops that have been damaged by the floods, according to WAtoday.com.au.
Photo: Natalie Dixon/The Cairns Post