An oversupply of Australian pears has caused local market prices to drop so low that many farmers are expecting to not meet production costs, ABC News Australia reported.
“In 1973, we were getting better returns than we are in 2018, which is absolutely ridiculous,” Goulburn Valley-based third-generation grower Bo Silverstein was quoted as saying.
A decrease in factory demand for Williams pears has caused the oversupply, pushing the traditional canning variety into supermarkets, the article said.
The Packham variety is only just reaching supermarkets, much later than usual, as many have been held in storage waiting for the Williams variety to leave the shelves.
While producing and packing a kilogram of pears can cost up to AUD$2, Fruit Growers Victoria said some supermarkets are selling them for as little as half the price.
“We don’t get inflation, our wages go up, taxes go up, costs go up in every way, shape or form, but the price of fruit stays the same,” said Silverstein.
“I added up my costs for my Williams as $130 per bin. Hopefully this year I’m going to return $130 but that’s no income, that’s paying for none of the time.”
Fruit Growers Victoria said that some growers should pull oversupplied varieties in an effort to mitigate the crippling price trend.
It said the consumer awareness of the product could be causing problems as most people are unaware of the different varieties of pear, and how long they need to wait before they reach their best.
Silverstein believes businesses should stick to a reasonable price.
“The supermarkets control everything. I think average cost of production should be minimum. If you’re picking good quality fruit with a 90% pack-out, there’s no reason you shouldn’t make some return,” he was quoted as saying.