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18 March, 2021

Cheap Taiwanese Pineapples: Rough end of the pineapple for local growers.

Rough end of the pineapple for local growers. Local pineapple producers in Far North Queensland are facing a fresh threat.

By Peter McCullagh

Local pineapple producers in Far North Queensland are facing a fresh threat. News media in Taiwan has reported that a shipment of six tonnes of pineapples is expected to arrive in Australia in May, with smaller quantities to be sent by air cargo.

Taiwan’s largest market for pineapples, China recently banned the import of all pineapples from Taiwan citing biosecurity concerns.

The first consignment of imported pineapples is of concern to Australian and local growers.

Growcom, the peak industry body representing the Australian pineapple industry, has today voiced concerns. 

“Australian consumers expect the highest standards of their fresh fruits and vegetables.

“That they are delivered fresh to the grocery aisle or the food service sector, and are grown under safe and sustainable conditions,” said Richard Shannon, Manager of Policy and Advocacy at Growcom.

“Until now consumers could be extremely confident their fresh, whole pineapples were clean and green, because they’re all grown here in Australia.

"Choosing Australian grown pineapples isn’t just about buying a superior product, but also about supporting our farmers and keeping jobs in regional Australia,” he said.

Kennedy MP, Bob Katter is understandably outraged at the decision to allow the import of pineapples into Australia.

Mr Katter said he will be writing to the Agriculture Minister, Trade Minister and Prime Minister calling on them to reverse the decision to allow the imports of pineapples from Taiwan, which was granted last year.

“We don’t help Taiwan by wiping out yet another industry in Australia,” he said.

Kennedy MP Bob Katter addressing this issue with the media

“They have diseases we don’t have. They have cheaper and more abundant labour than we have. So, our growers will not be able to compete.”

"This is once again another agricultural industry that is about to sacrificed on the altar of free markets," he said.

 "We are now a net importer or fruit and vegetables. Most people don't believe me when I say that, but you can check it up with the ABS.

 "Cattle, wool, fish, dairy, tobacco, maize, eggs have all been slaughtered by the major parties and their obsession with deregulation and free markets.

 "All it means is Woolworths and Coles are free to mark up the price on supermarket shelves. In the last 30 years food prices have gone up 300% but inflation has gone up 200%. You are paying double for the price of food these days.

 “To wipe out another element of our fruit and vegetable production is just not acceptable.”

 Industry is also again flagging concerns raised during the recent import risk review concluded by the Australian Government, around whether biosecurity risks that come with importing fresh pineapples from Taiwan can be adequately managed.

In a statement, Australia's Department of Agriculture said pineapples from Taiwan were permitted for importation but must meet the following conditions:

  • They must be decrowned (top removed to reduce pest and weed seed risk, and risk of the top being planted/propagated in Australia and introducing diseases).
  • They must be fumigated with methyl bromide to control pests on the surface of the fruit like thrips and mealybugs.
  • They must also be grown in Taiwan using standard commercial production practices and packing procedures.

 Australia used to produce up to 140,000 tonnes of pineapples each year. This figure has dropped appreciably with the increase in imported pineapples for catering and food service as well as our supermarket shelves.

 The majority of the pineapple on pizza is 100 per cent imported along with most of the many of the brands on our supermarket shelves.

 Golden Circle, a brand synonymous with tinned fruit currently use pineapples from Indonesia in many of their tinned pineapple range. Australian grown pineapple is packaged and labelled specifically as Australia Pineapple Pieces.

Golden Circle, a brand synonymous with tinned fruit currently use pineapples from Indonesia in many of their tinned pineapple range

 Consumers are encouraged to read the labels on products they buy, and support Australian grown and packaged product.

The livelihood of families and complete towns depend upon a strong and sustainable farming industry. The latest battleground appears to be the thorniest yet.

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