Farmers have been forced to dump thousands of avocados in far north Queensland because of an oversupply of the fruit and increased transportation and packaging costs.
Jan De Lai, a resident of Atherton in far north Queensland, posted the photos of the discarded avocados to Facebook after finding them at the tip.
“Truckloads of avocados are being dumped in Atherton! Surely they could be used for animal fodder or used to make oil?” she wrote.
The post was picked up by several news publications and sparked concerns avocado farmers were being forced to compete with international sellers.
But Avocado Australia’s chairman Jim Kochi said the fruits being sold on shelves were 100% Australian at this time of year.
“At this time of year, there are no imports of avocados coming into Australia,” he said.
Kochi said the avocados were dumped because of an oversupply in the domestic market amid favourable growing conditions, particularly in Western Australia.
“We have a fairly high supply of premium and class one avocados, and about two weeks ago, when this happened, price returns to growers were quite low,” he said.
“We were back to levels we were at 20 years ago.”
The high supply makes it harder for growers to justify processing lower quality avocados, Kochi said.
“There has been … a lot more competition between growers and the chains,” he said. “So therefore the price was down. We were looking at fruit priced $1 when normally they could be $2 or $3 apiece.”
Normally, low-grade avocados, such as those pictured, would end up in a processing facility and turned into guacamole or other products, including face masks.
But Kochi said processing facilities in Queensland were full so some have ended up in green waste and turned into compost.
He said growers only dump fruit as a last resort.
“It’s not worth it to anyone trying to repackage it,” he said.
“Our packaging costs have doubled, transport has almost doubled, all of those handling cost have doubled. We don’t have the extra labour to handle it.
“The easiest is to turn it into compost.”
Woolworths and Coles confirmed they were currently only selling Australian avocados.