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Australian farmers forced to let produce rot

Avocado oversupply drives prices down

Farmers Julie and Tony Pratt from Wolvi, on the Sunshine Coast, have had to make some difficult decisions after making a profit of just 4 cents per avocado. The pair claims letting their produce rot is now the most economical decision. Avocado production has doubled in the past decade as farmers, and this is leading to smaller growers being priced out of the market.

"One dollar an avocado [in the supermarket means] all farms are losing money -- doesn't matter whether you're a small family farm or a corporate farm," Pratt told "What really hurts is when you see that fruit not coming from Australia. It makes it pretty hard to get up the next morning and start up irrigation pumps to prepare for the next crop."

Avocados Australia chief executive John Tyas said more trees coupled with a good growing conditions had significantly increased market supply. "This year we're seeing a massive increase in production with a lot of young plantings coming online," he said. Last year, Australian growers produced almost 90,000 tons, but Tyas said 120,000 tons would be produced in the next year.

Industry representative Hort Innovation launched an advertising campaign in June to increase demand for the rapidly growing supply.

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