THE long-established pineapple industry faces a tough road ahead with imported processed fruit jostling for shelf space.
Pineapples are given a special mention within the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences' (ABARES) Outlook 2018 agricultural commodities report for the March quarter, released today.
In 2015–16 the Australian pineapple industry reported having 1176 hectares of non-bearing area to contribute to future production (equivalent to 73 per cent of 2015–16 bearing area).
"Pineapples are produced mostly in Queensland and around 40pc of production is processed into canned fruit or juice," the report says.
"Australian pineapple products compete in domestic markets with imports from Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam.
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"In recent years, an appreciating Australian dollar against the Thai baht and the Philippine peso has made imports cheaper than domestic products.
"Greater collaboration between Australian pineapple value chain participants to reduce costs and offer more innovative products would assist to improve competitiveness in domestic markets."
The Horticulture Innovation Australia Pineapple Fund 2016-17 annual report lists "low cost imports to competing processed product" as one of the major challenges to the industry.
It also puts production at 67,434 tonnes with a value of $52.4 million for the 2014-15 year.
In January this year, north Queensland pineapple grower, Robert Richardson, caused a stir on social and mainstream media after posting an image on social media of piles of fruit rotting in the tropical sun at his Paradise Pines plantation, north of Townsville.
Following the media focus, Mr Richardson urged consumers to buy Australian.
"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," he said at the time.