Do you like pina coladas?
Pineapple growers in north Queensland say now is the time to consume Australian pineapples, with a huge oversupply worsened by the temporary shut-down of Golden Circle’s Brisbane cannery.
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A Facebook post by NQ Paradise Pines this week showed a mountain of several tonnes of pineapples going to waste instead of to the cannery, which is closed for scheduled maintenance.
The post has been shared more than 20,000 times.
A photo posted by NQ Paradise Pines showing tonnes of pineapples going to waste in Rollingstone due to an oversupply and the temporary closure of the Golden Circle cannery. Photo: Facebook/NQ Paradise Pines
The pineapple season came early due to high temperatures and rainfall, but Golden Circle’s Brisbane cannery is closed for weeks of scheduled maintenance.
Growers are warning of a shortage of canned Australian pineapples, and are encouraging people to buy fresh fruit from grocers, and trying to track down locally-grown tinned fruit.
Golden Circle said trained labour was not available over the Christmas period, and a supply from a fresh market grower could not be taken.
“Golden Circle remains a huge supporter of Australian growers,” the company said in a statement.
“The canned pineapple Golden Circle supplies to the major Australian supermarkets is Australian-grown and processed in Queensland.”
Several growers, who were contacted by Fairfax Media for comment, told local media it was heartbreaking to see their produce go to waste.
“When there’s a forecast of a glut in the market, maybe [Golden Circle] could open up and take some pines,” farmer Christopher Berra told Channel Seven.
“I hate to sound like a whingeing farmer, but we just need more people to eat pineapples, really.”
Paradise Pines manager Robert Richardson said Golden Circle, owned by Heinz, is not the company Australians once knew.
Mr Richardson said it was heartening to read messages of support after the Facebook post, but shoppers needed to actively buy Australian fruit.
“If they don’t pick up a can that has ‘Product of Australia’ on it and they pick up one that’s got ‘Product of Indonesia’, then they are destroying an industry.”
Queensland horticulture industry body GrowCom called for calm, saying the relationship with Golden Circle was vital to the pineapple industry.
GrowCom CEO Pat Hannan said growers had not predicted the early season.
“It is arguable, however, that Golden Circle should have responded more positively to the industry it relies upon, particularly when such good fruit was available in good volumes,” Mr Hannan said in a statement.
“Growers have been affected financially and, perhaps with better communication, the impacts on growers could have been reduced to the benefit of all involved.”
Since the post three days ago, Paradise Pines has received queries about alternative uses for the pineapples, and say they will look into using a foodbank or getting a mobile juicing plant if the same problem arises in future seasons.