Coffs banana future questioned
RON Gray fears the end is nigh for what is left of the Coffs Coast’s banana industry.
In the 1970s there were 1000 growers in Coffs Harbour and Woolgoolga, but now only a fraction remain.
“A few of us did a head count recently of the remaining serious growers and could come up with just 100 between the Clarence and Bellinger rivers,” Mr Gray said. “And the way prices have been this year, I don’t know why any of us keep going.”
What makes the Woolgoolga grower particularly angry is that the current retail prices for bananas bear no reflection to what producers are getting.
“Growers are receiving as little as 50 cents a kilogram for their fruit but some local supermarkets are charging up to $2.50 a kilogram,” he said.
“With the cost of production around $1.30 a kilogram we are going backwards every time we consign fruit and they are making money.”
According to the chief executive officer the Australian Banana Growers Council (ABGC) , Jonathan Eccles, the price mark-up from grower to consumer is sitting at around 350 per cent.
“Nine months of excellent weather has resulted in an abundance of fruit but, sadly, consumers were not being given the benefits of cheaper prices at a retail level,” he said.
Mr Gray agreed that until retail prices drop, bananas will continue to be in a state of oversupply and growers’ returns will stay well below the cost of production.