Future unsteady stone fruit growers

By Our Reporter
Image used for representational purposes only. Photo by Discover Serbia on Unsplash

Rising air freight costs, closed markets worry peach farmers in Australia

Stone fruit growers in Australia are finding the going tough as they might have to pull out some of their trees to COVID 19. This because the ongoing pandemic has increased air freight costs exponentially, causing a rumble in the export markets.

Farmers growing stone fruits are living in fear of limited access to air freight. To add to this, they are also wary of the surging costs that have the potential to place an excessive financial burden on the growers. Many growers have complained that the onset of the pandemic forced markets to close.

The latest USDA report predicts a 17% fall in the export of peaches and nectarines for the coming season. The report says that the Government’s International Freight Assistance Mechanism program is attempting to support exporters by securing air freight space. However, projected freight costs are double what they were pre-Covid 19. The labour available for the upcoming harvest is also becoming a problem.

Even though growers are working hard to alter their freight strategies by supplying more produce through high waters in the ongoing season, some of the produce, like white peaches, are perishable and not suited for the long journeys.

These peaches are usually headed for the profitable Chinese markets and thus need to reach there at a faster rate. In fact, these peaches are grown to travel by air freight.

Hari Yellina of Orchard Tech suggests that even though the farmers are hoping to gain support from the government, they have to figure out some measures that will aid them in the future. The president of Swan Hill Summer Fruit Development Association has been collaborating with workers in order to figure out a cost-effective solution.

“The option of charter flights has been considered, but it is not applicable as the charges are high,” says Yellina.

Peter Wahlquist, owner of Pelamis Group, has been trying to chalk out options for faster shipping. Their ships are relatively quick and can transport many goods in a shorter period. “Therefore, even though growers have to stand the test of time, they are trying their best to rise above the hurdles presented to them,” says Yellina.

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