Tim Carnell, managing director of Kirra Pines. Photo: Natalie Grono
Tim Carnell, managing director of Kirra Pines. Photo: Natalie Grono

Consume or crash: Producers plead for shopper support

PRODUCERS are imploring shoppers not to "turn up their nose" to this season's offerings.

After extended drought and bouts of hail, the past year has been the hardest in living memory for Granite Belt growers.

Consumer confidence could make or break the region's growers according to fourth-generation horticulturist Tim Carnell.

"This past 18 months has seen some of the most challenging growing conditions of our generation," Mr Carnell said.

"Despite this, we have still managed to supply Australian households with quality fresh produce.

"The worst thing for us would be for shoppers to turn their nose up at tomatoes that might not be as firm or big, or capsicums that are slightly miss-shaped."

The Kirra Pines managing director has been carting water to his Ballandean farm for more than 12 months.

While it's unlikely they'll recoup all those costs anytime soon, he's focused on the longer-term.

"It's critical for the long-term survival of Aussie farmers that customers continue to buy and enjoy the fresh food we grow, even if it's not perfect to look at," he said.

Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Minister Mark Furner.
Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Minister Mark Furner.

Mr Carnell's words have been echoed by Queensland's Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner.

"We know that many retailers, such as Coles, have been helping drought and bushfire affected producers by paying higher wholesale prices and accepting produce that may not be to the visual standards customers have become accustomed to expect," Mr Furner said.

"Mangoes may have a few marks, apples may be a little smaller, but it's important for consumers to know that even if fresh produce doesn't look absolutely perfect, it still tastes just as good - and they'll be helping our farmers at a time when they need it most.

"Supporting our farmers is vital to supporting regional jobs and regional economies."

Growcom CEO David Thomson welcomed any undertaking from retailers to provide a fair price to farmers doing it tough.

"Too much of our produce has been wasted because it hasn't met specifications. So we'd hope having been given a taste this season, that consumers will continue to choose small, blemished or misshaped fruits and vegetables."

Coles Group CEO Steven Cain said the company had been working closely with farmers to adjust product specifications where necessary.

"Our customers are very keen to support Australian farmers, so we're hoping they join us in looking beyond a few surface imperfections - the beauty of Australian produce is certainly more than skin deep," he said.

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