Orange boom forces price slash Wendy Hargreaves, Sunday Herald Sun, June 19 2011
A GLUT oflocally grown navel oranges is forcing retailers to slash prices to less than $2 a kilogram as citrus growers struggle to sell their biggest crop in 10 years.
Drenching summer rains and mildertemperatures in the Sunraysia, Riverina and Riverland regions have produced the massive harvest – 70,000 tonnes more than last year, taking the haul to 250,000 tonnes.
And orange prices are expected to stay low forthe rest ofthe year, as export markets
collapse underthe strong Australian dollar.
Growers usually export about half ofthe local orange crop, but they cannot compete with
cheaperfruit from South Africa and Chile. This means even more top-quality fruit at low proces in local supermarkets.
Citrus Australia spokesman Andrew Harty expects many farmers will be forced to plough smallerfruit back into the ground.
But he said it was good news for consumers.
The oranges are very high quality, there are plenty ofthem and the prices will be very reasonable,” Mr Harty said.
There certainly wont be any shortage of oranges from now until the end ofthe year.”
Mr Harty said valencia orange crops were also expected to
boom later this season, jumping 70,000 tonnes to 230,000 tonnes.
But while the rainy, mild weather created an unseasonably big crop, Mr
Harty said the downside was the size ofthe fruit – much smallerthan in warmer years and anotherfactor in making them harderto sell.
Mr Harty urged consumers to try the smaller oranges because this year’s crop was particularly juicy and sweet.
Compared with banana prices inflated to about $14 a kilogram because of Queensland’s Cyclone Yasi – local oranges become a bargain.
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