In 2018, there was an average of 1.2 tonnes of fruit per store, according to the Fruit Market Advisory Council.
By 2022, that had increased to 2.2 tons.
That’s an average increase of more than 100 per cent, according the Council’s executive director, Graham Deane.
It’s a significant jump from the 5.7 tonnes per store of the past two years.
It was a significant leap when the market was still in its infancy, he said.
“The market has been in a downward spiral for some time,” he said, and the NSW government is now trying to stem the trend.
Deane said he was also concerned about the rise in prices of produce that was sold at the local fruit market.
“It’s not a good sign when the prices of the produce is going up at the same time as the prices are going down,” he told the ABC.
In February, a local fruit store in Sydney’s north-west lost $600,000 in profit because of rising costs.
The price of a cup of strawberries jumped from $0.80 to $1.15 after a big hit to the market.
Deans advice The NSW government has a number of initiatives it is taking to curb fruit price rises, including: introducing a cap on the amount of fruit the market can sell.
It also wants to allow fruit producers to make payments to retailers for any loss in profits.
“There are a number steps that the government is taking now to mitigate the impact of price increases on growers,” Deane told the National Farmers Union.
“But we know that they will have to do more.”
Deans said it was important that growers knew how to adapt to the changes, and they needed to work with retailers to get the best deal.
The NSW Department of Primary Industries and Food Services has set up a website to help growers understand the changes and how they can adjust their business.
The Department of Agriculture, Food and Water, which is the NSW agency that regulates the industry, is also offering a free consultation on the changes.
But there is no set time frame for the public to submit their comments.
‘This is not a sustainable industry’ In January, the Federal Government announced a $2.5 million package for the NSW Government to fund the development of a new website that would show farmers how they could sell more fruit.
“This is the first time in our history that the Federal government has made a commitment to help NSW growers,” Agriculture Minister Paul Fletcher said at the time.
“We’re also committed to continuing our efforts to ensure the industry is resilient to these significant changes.”
The NSW Government has also set up its own online resource for growers.
“If you want to find out how to sell more fruits, then you should know what’s going on in your region,” said the NSW Department’s deputy chief of fruit, Simon Johnson.
“I think we have to start by being very clear on what the industry really needs to do to be sustainable.”
Johnson said the government had not set out any targets for growers to achieve their targets, but hoped that the website would help them to understand the market and adapt.
“Farmers need to understand how to manage their operations so that they don’t end up in the same situation as last year, when they had to cut costs and raise prices, and now they’re in a situation where they have to have to take that same action again,” he explained.
Johnson said it would also help farmers to understand why prices were going up.
“So if we can make a better understanding of the factors that have led to this increase in fruit prices, we can identify those things that can help them get more fruit for the same price,” he added.
“For example, if we have increased prices for some of the same reasons that we did last year or are just getting a better product, maybe we should increase prices.”
In the meantime, Johnson said growers needed to continue to be cautious.
“Growers can have a lot of things going on at the moment, so I don’t think it’s a good idea to panic at the beginning,” he advised.
“You just have to stay patient and just be very careful and see how the market changes.”
The NSW Government is also putting forward a set of new measures to improve the quality of fruit.
It is also looking at other measures to support farmers in the retail and wholesale markets, including a new rule that allows fruit sellers to apply for the protection of certain product labels, which could be more easily applied to fruit sellers.
The federal government is also setting up an Australian Centre for Agricultural Policy Innovation to develop agricultural policy and innovation strategies for the fruit and vegetable sector.
For more local news, visit the ABC’s local section.