Why farmers are dumping truckloads of avocados

It’s a scenario that would confuse and frustrate everything australian consumer – thousands of avocados are dumped amid the highest food prices inflation in years.

But farmers have defended the measure, saying it is a necessary evil to prevent them falling into the red.

See in the video above: Impressive number of lawyers found in Queensland landfill

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The problem arose after Jan De Lai, a resident of Atherton in Far North Queensland, came across the huge green pile of perfectly fine fruit – apparently – left to rot at her local tip.

“Two trucks came and dumped big piles of avocados. And I had noticed there were also a lot of abandoned things there before,” she told 7NEWS of the scene on Tuesday. May 5.

“It just seemed like there were tons and tons and tons of avocados that were wasted.

“The mounds were huge – much taller than me.”

A large pile of avocados left at the Atherton landfill. Credit: Jan De Lai/Facebook

Jim Kochi, a grower from Atherton who sits on the board of Avocados Australia, said the product was not his but admitted he had to shed a large number of avocados the year last.

Demand plummeted during last year’s COVID-19 shutdowns as restaurants closed, while the ‘misery’ caused by flooding in Queensland and New South Wales this year also ‘disrupted’ the market, Kochi said.

Another reason, he adds, is that farmers planted more trees in the last decade when avocados were all the rage — and now those trees are bearing fruit.

“These trees are now coming into production – and are coming into production in a big way,” he told 7NEWS.

Jan De Lai said the piles of fruit were higher than her.
Jan De Lai said the piles of fruit were higher than her. Credit: Facebook/Provided

As cost of living pressures mount amid high inflation and weak wage growth, major supermarkets are selling avocados for between $1.60 and $1.80 each.

So why not just lower the price to drive up the demand? Because it still wouldn’t be worth it for the farmers, according to Kochi.

“The cost of putting these things in a package, including the labor, the cost of packaging, and the cost of transportation, just isn’t worth it,” he said.

“So the option is just to throw it away.

“It’s not only cheaper (to throw it away), but you just can’t afford to spend the labor on packaging.

“It doesn’t pay to invest money in packaging the fruit or paying someone the freight to send it to Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.”

Michael Harvey, an agricultural industry analyst at Rabobank, said that although Australia suffered its biggest year-on-year increase in food price inflation since 2011, avocados were the one of the few foods to undergo “deflationary pressure”.

But he says the avocado industry still has a solid foundation for long-term success.

“Throughout the pandemic, grocery chains have performed well at the expense of foodservice, where avocado consumption has been very low,” he told 7NEWS.com.au.

“He’s recovering because most of Australia has opened up. But the restoration channel, you wouldn’t classify it as going back above pre-pandemic levels.

“If you look longer term, the industry still has strong fundamentals there, in the sense that you have strong consumption there, but also in export markets.

“Some of these cost pressures will ease over time, but that’s the challenge at the moment.

“There are bright spots on the horizon as production costs should normalize in some time, the oversupply situation should correct and demand continues to grow.”

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