By: Judy Davie - Image copyright Alison Jay(The Alison Jay Gallery) Available on Etsy
Imagine what it would feel like to invest all your time, effort and money into a product that costs more to produce than you make for it?
That's precisely what's happening to Queensland strawberry farmers right now who report that the cost to grow, pick and pack a punnet of strawberries is approximately $1.10 while we can buy them at the supermarket for $1. Don't forget the retailer builds a margin into that dollar as well.
With numbers like that it's no surprise that some Queensland strawberry farmers are shutting their doors.
This year Queensland strawberry growers are struggling to survive what they say is the worst glut in the industry's history. The glut, the power of the almighty supermarkets, over planting and the availability of strawberries all year round have driven down the price of strawberries to a point where the farmers are going backwards. Some farmers are shutting their doors voluntarily while others, it is feared, may be forced to.
As tempting as it may be, you can't only blame the supermarkets, although they are to blame for rejecting drum loads of berries because they don't meet the customer's extra-large requirements. As well, with contracts in place to supply at no fixed price, the supermarkets are in an almighty position where they can slash the price to the farmer when there's a glut of produce.
This of course applies to all produce, not just strawberries. We've already seen it with milk.
The preference for larger berries is something we consumers can consider - maybe we can start a # sizedoesntmatter campaign on Twitter.
Certainly strawberries taste as good regardless of the size. If we were to accept all berries, large and small, at least farmers would not be hoeing the "smaller" berries back into the ground.
As a writer I compare that to writing a book for six months and losing the entire contents off my hard-drive never to be recovered.
I don't know what the solution is. What I do know is that during the winter months it's nice to enjoy Queensland strawberries and it's horrible to think of anyone toiling away for months for no gain.
Australia is one of the most urbanised countries in the world and most people are completely disconnected with nature. But Australians like to give people a fair go and in general we are good people. So let's try to understand about the affairs of the land and consider what it means to make a living from it.
Let's buy the ugly fruit and the smaller strawberries and not be so demanding and, let's continue to shop in stores where the "face of the store" has a relationship with the people of the land.
Image©Alison Jay(The Alison Jay Gallery)
available on Etsy