Archive for November, 2012
Farmers are often portrayed as being a few stubbies short of a six pack. Slow, bumpkins, whingers … and a host of other stereotypes. I recently interviewed a Queensland apple producer who puts paid to such criticism. He’s a man who doesn’t fit any of those stereotypes.
His name is Will Thompson and he runs Lerinda Apples at Stanthorpe. Will’s journey to apple growing hasn’t been conventional. He started his working life as a Navy clearance diver, completed a Masters of Business and spent many years managing some of Queensland’s leading tropical resorts.
Now he draws on his business and navy training to run a large apple production business as that – a business. He won’t listen to criticism about Australian famers not being cutting edge … he says the country’s leading food producers have adopted world’s best practice and that he analyses everything that happens in his operation and is constantly searching for efficiencies and better ways to function.
But he admits the time is coming when farmers will be unable to find more cost-effective ways of operating and at that point he says consumers will have to pay extra for fresh, high-quality Australian-grown food.
He told me about a recent trip to the supermarket where he overheard a couple complaining about the price of potatoes.
Will asked them: ‘Do you know how much it costs to get them to the store?’”
“They said, ‘Yes but if they were imported we’d get them cheaper.’
“Everyone wants to put their hand out for pay rises but no one wants to pay any extra for food. Our costs are going up and our margins are getting smaller.”
Will says the apple industry is facing the threat of cheap Chinese imports. Last season Chinese Pink Lady apples were selling for one-third the price of Australian fruit. Which begs the question – how is it so?
Are Australian consumers content to buy cheap fruit knowing that it may have been grown using cheap labour and chemicals banned from use in Australia? And in doing so supporting an industry which will threaten the future of Australian businesses and jobs? Only time will tell …
Ever wondered what happens to an apple before it reaches your home? Read on to find out.
It was a number one. Easy right? I wish.
I’m still traumatised by the experience. It had to be just perfect for my little one-year-old. Why? Because it did, alright?! Because my mothering skills were being judged by that cake. Because I was sleep deprived and had been reading too many copies of Donna Hay’s maagazine.
Just because, okay?
We’ve just celebrated our second son’s fifth birthday and oh how things have changed.
Queensland pineapples are now available, but a large QLD grower says suppliers on the East Coast of Australia can’t compete with Thai imports.
Gavin Scurr of Pinata Farms says Thai imports are flooding into Western Australia to fill orders, previously supplied by Queensland producers.
He says Perth-based importers have identified the lucrative mining market and are importing containers of pineapples each week from Thailand to satisfy the requirements of mining companies.
“It used to be one container every now and then; Now it’s many containers each week,” says Scurr.
“It costs us $700/pallet to get pineapples to Perth but they can bring them in from Thailand for $80/pallet. Their cost of production is about one-third of ours and they ship straight into the mines. The miners don’t care where their fruit comes from.
“That’s 40 to 50 tonne of pineapples each week that’s not come from Australian growers.
“They’re only selling for a couple of dollars under the Australian pineapples so really the profits are being made by the importer, they are making massive margins because they’re paying Thai prices for the fruit.”
“It’s really something that’s popped up in the last six months.”
Mr Scurr says while Coles and Woolworths remained fiercely committed to supporting Australian growers and stocking local produce, growers will remain viable.
Do you buy Australian-grown produce when it’s available? Is price important to you?
Logan food producers are taking their message to Facebook in a bid to overcome misconceptions about how they farm.
It’s a common complaint among farmers who operate close to urban sprawl.
They say new residents move to the country for the idyllic lifestyle, but don’t fall in love with the reality of farming.
There are the early mornings, late nights, noisy machinery, the irrigation and the chemical spraying.
Food producers in the Logan area have been experiencing problems since 2007.
Many of the region’s farmers grow their produce in greenhouses, but it’s a method that they say hasn’t won support from some residents, nor from some on the local council. Some of the criticism has also been racially-driven, due to the nationality of the farmers.
Lisa Crooks, who runs Riverview Herbs, with her husband Ray Crooks says they are now on their third farm.
Each time development encroaches their operation they move, while also having a mind on the food miles involved in shipping their produce to market.